in·​elas·​tic | \ˌi-nə-ˈla-stik \

Definition of inelastic 

: not elastic: such as

a : slow to react or respond to changing conditions

b : inflexible, unyielding

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Other Words from inelastic

inelasticity \ˌi-​ni-​ˌla-​ˈsti-​s(ə-​)tē, (ˌ)i-​ˌnē-​ˌla-​ \ noun

Examples of inelastic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The company’s lock on a large market with inelastic demand was chum for hedge funds; a half-dozen, notably the New York investment management firm Paulson & Company, bought stakes in the company. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, "How Big Pharma Was Captured by the One Percent," 28 June 2018 In a world of more-fluid fandom, Dolan couldn’t count on inelastic demand for his terrible product. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "In Praise of Fair-Weather Fandom," 16 Apr. 2018 But inelastic experiments performed at SLAC, many of which were led by Dr. Taylor, produced a lot of scattering of particles at very big angles, to a far greater degree than had been predicted. Dylan Loeb Mcclain, New York Times, "Richard E. Taylor, Nobel Winner Who Plumbed Matter, Is Dead at 88," 1 Mar. 2018 The supply of gullible and greedy people willing to chase it higher is accordingly higher and supply is, famously, inelastic (even before the hackers raid your wallet). Alan Murray, Fortune, "Count (and Distribute) Your Winnings — CEO Daily, Thursday 21st December," 21 Dec. 2017 Parents have no choice but to subscribe to the Disney service, and parents also know that there seems to be inelastic demand for Disney’s theme park tickets. Jon C. Ogg, USA TODAY, "2018 Outlook: How Exxon, GE, IBM, Merck and Disney could be the top Dow stocks," 11 Dec. 2017 Having failed to predict the commodity downturn in the second half of that year, Brazil’s government was shocked at how inelastic the economy proved to be. The Economist, "Populism’s pervasive cycle," 5 Oct. 2017 Business travel used to be the airlines’ bread and butter, because demand business travel is inelastic. Jon Caldara, The Denver Post, "Did Orville and Wilbur want this?," 15 Apr. 2017 With inelastic demand, barring sales one day of the week means that more product will be sold on each of the six remaining ones. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Economic twists and turns of demon rum," 4 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inelastic.' 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 inelastic

1748, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of inelastic was in 1748

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More Definitions for inelastic



Financial Definition of inelastic

What It Is

Something is inelastic when its price does not vary with the price of another item. It the business world, the term most often refers to how little the price of a good or service changes when the supply of that good or service changes.

The formula for elasticity is:

Elasticity = % Change in Quantity/% Change in Price

How It Works

Let's assume that when gas prices increase by 50%, gas purchases fall by just 2%. Using the formula above, we can calculate that gasoline is pretty inelastic:

Elasticity = -2%/50% = -0.04

Thus, we can say that for every percentage point that gas prices increase, gas purchases decrease by four one-hundredths of a percent. The price of gas is inelastic.

Why It Matters

If demand changes a lot when prices change a little, the demand for a product is elastic. This often is the case for products or services for which there are many alternatives or for which consumers are price sensitive.

The opposite is also true: When there is a small change in demand when prices change a lot, the product is inelastic. This is often the case for products and services that people consider necessities and will purchase at almost any price. The presence of few good substitutes and the presence of customer loyalty are also factors. At some point, however, there is a price at which demand for any good or service will fall to zero or near zero.

Source: Investing Answers


in·​elas·​tic | \ˌin-ə-ˈlas-tik \

Kids Definition of inelastic

: not elastic


in·​elas·​tic | \ˌin-i-ˈlas-tik \

Medical Definition of inelastic 

: not elastic

Other Words from inelastic

inelasticity \-​i-​ˌlas-​ˈtis-​ət-​ē, -​ˌē-​ˌlas-​, -​ˈtis-​tē \ noun plural inelasticities

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