inept

adjective
in·​ept | \ i-ˈnept \

Definition of inept

1 : lacking in fitness or aptitude : unfit inept at sports
2 : lacking sense or reason : foolish
3 : not suitable to the time, place, or occasion : inappropriate often to an absurd degree an inept metaphor
4 : generally incompetent : bungling inept leadership

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Other Words from inept

ineptly \ i-​ˈnep(t)-​lē \ adverb
ineptness \ i-​ˈnept-​nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for inept

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of inept in a Sentence

Not only does the post have a narrow mandate, covering such sexy subjects as nuclear waste and solar energy, but the secretary presides over the most inept bureaucrats in the land. — Franklin Foer, New Republic, 3 July 2000 The real hackers have an understanding of technology at a basic level.  … The rest are talentless poseurs and hangers-on, either completely inept or basic criminals. — Bruce Schneier, Secrets & Lies, 2000 To Cornelius, the White House travel office must have seemed—as it would have to any of the others who had served on the tight ship of the campaign's travel operation—an appallingly inept … operation. — Peter J. Boyer, New Yorker, 15 Apr. 1996 He was completely inept at sports. He made an inept attempt to apologize.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Queen Village resident Warren Lipka was once a main player in one of the most inept heists of all time, in which a group of friends failed to steal from a $20 million book collection. Aubrey Nagle, Philly.com, "Summer arts guide, Wells Fargo Center to get a new look | Morning Newsletter," 7 June 2018 Foes of the head tax spent months attacking City Hall as inept and wasteful. Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times, "Seattle property-tax levy to test voters’ generosity toward education," 15 Oct. 2018 Two big exceptions to the trend are Venezuela, where some analysts say widespread corruption has deepened that country’s crisis, and Mexico, where an inept and politicized judiciary has failed to prosecute deeply rooted corruption. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "Argentine Police Raid Homes of Ex-President Cristina Kirchner in Graft Probe," 23 Aug. 2018 Some critics responded, but even those frustrated by the film's tonal shifts found room to praise Washington's work as the socially inept, idealistic title character. Glenn Whipp, latimes.com, "Surprised by these 5? The stories behind a quintet of unexpected Oscar nominees," 25 Jan. 2018 Getty Images/EyeEm For the socially anxious, or even just the socially inept, New Year’s Eve is a historically tough holiday. E.j. Dickson, Vox, "How brands are capitalizing on your lack of plans.," 26 Dec. 2018 The Trump administration’s sluggish, inept response to the disaster has been well-documented. Yvonne Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, "After hurricane struck Puerto Rico, a second disaster was man-made," 2 June 2018 Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008 may have been one of the first (perhaps not coincidentally, that campaign was inept and fractious). The Economist, "Memo to White House staff: keep talking," 22 Mar. 2018 That was the closest the inept Earthquakes (2-7-3) came to a shot on goal until the 89th minute, when Bingham got a hand on a long Danny Hoesen strike and deflected it off the crossbar. Kevin Baxter, latimes.com, "No Ibrahimovic, no problem as Bingham and Galaxy put together back-to-back shutouts," 26 May 2018

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

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for inept

Middle French inepte, from Latin ineptus, from in- + aptus apt

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Statistics for inept

Last Updated

8 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inept

The first known use of inept was in 1542

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More Definitions for inept

inept

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of inept

: lacking skill or ability
: showing a lack of skill or ability : not done well

inept

adjective
in·​ept | \ i-ˈnept \

Kids Definition of inept

1 : not suited to the occasion an inept remark
2 : lacking in skill or ability an inept painter

Other Words from inept

ineptly adverb
ineptness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on inept

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inept

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inept

Spanish Central: Translation of inept

Nglish: Translation of inept for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inept for Arabic Speakers

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