in·ef·fi·cient | \ˌi-nə-ˈfi-shənt \

Definition of inefficient 

: not efficient: such as

a : not producing the effect intended or desired

b : wasteful of time or energy inefficient operating procedures

c : incapable, incompetent an inefficient worker

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Other Words from inefficient

inefficient noun
inefficiently adverb

Examples of inefficient in a Sentence

The delivery system was very inefficient. an inefficient use of fuel

Recent Examples on the Web

The new, bipartisan measure consolidates numerous private-care programs that were fragmented and inefficient and drew support from disparate veterans groups that often disagree. Anchorage Daily News, "White House fights plan to fund veterans health care bill even as Trump signs it into law," 6 June 2018 The second, less obvious, risk is that China will revert to a stodgily inefficient banking system. The Economist, "China has made progress in tackling financial risks," 14 June 2018 The pair, working with a few other classmates, identified a huge pain point for villagers in Sub-Saharan Africa: an over-reliance on diesel and kerosene as energy sources, creating a costly, inefficient system. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Madison-based clean energy startup takes first prize in Gov Biz Plan Contest," 8 June 2018 Conservatives view the criminal justice system as an inefficient system in dire need of reform. Joi Ito, WIRED, "AI Isn’t a Crystal Ball, But It Might Be a Mirror," 9 May 2018 However, keeping track of which videos are impacted (and for how long) is itself quite difficult, owing to how many channels may be temporarily hit only to have those strikes reversed after an inefficient reviews process. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Tragic YouTube shooting casts new light on creators’ “adpocalypse” complaints [Updated]," 4 Apr. 2018 The department, which has 370,000 employees and serves more than 20 million veterans, has struggled to modernize with its inefficient health care system ensnared in crisis. Juana Summers, CNN, "VA's challenges raise questions from some about Jackson's experience," 29 Mar. 2018 Ross Bowers was one of just five quarterbacks to pass for more than 3,000 yards last season in the Pac-12, but inefficient play and turnovers cost the sophomore. Matt Murschel,, "Improving Cal is No. 70 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 18 June 2018 And too often, help for the poor comes in ways that are cruel, inefficient, paternalistic or complex. The Economist, "Capitalism needs a welfare state to survive," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inefficient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of inefficient

1750, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

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The first known use of inefficient was in 1750

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More Definitions for inefficient



English Language Learners Definition of inefficient

: not capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy : not efficient


in·ef·fi·cient | \ˌi-nə-ˈfi-shənt \

Kids Definition of inefficient

1 : not effective : ineffectual an inefficient repair

2 : not capable of bringing about a desired result with little waste inefficient workers

Other Words from inefficient

inefficiently adverb

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Comments on inefficient

What made you want to look up inefficient? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

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