in·​ept | \ i-ˈnept How to pronounce inept (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ineptly (audio) \ adverb
ineptness \ i-​ˈnept-​nəs How to pronounce ineptness (audio) \ 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 However, not good enough to compensate for their inept play in the secondary. Eddie Herz, The Denver Post, "Three keys to a Colorado State Rams football victory over New Mexico," 10 Oct. 2019 Miami has been particularly inept in the second half, getting outscored 81-0 after halftime. Mark Inabinett |, al, "NFL Week 5: An abundance of bad teams," 3 Oct. 2019 The Detroit Red Wings badly need a shot of confidence on the inept power play. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings mull personnel swapping to correct power play," 18 Jan. 2018 Not only did the UO offense look inept that night in Boise, running back LeGarrette Blount threw a postgame punch that became one of college football’s biggest stories. oregonlive, "A look back at two previous Rose Bowl seasons for the Oregon Ducks: Issues & Answers," 23 Dec. 2019 Instead, the chance to tie, if not outright win, was plucked from them by inept officiating., "The tributes can wait until there’s no time left on the clock, if this is indeed the free-agent-to-be’s final season as a Patriot. There’s still time to appreciate him while he’s here. Especially now, as he fights valiantly while so much around him falters and fades.," 11 Dec. 2019 Most of the Coyotes' losses this season can be traced back to lost special-teams battles, and most of that is derived from an inept power play. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes grades through the first quarter of the 2019-20 season," 15 Nov. 2019 Get rid of your inept cronies and replace them with experienced and objective people who know the facts about their assignment. Steve West,, "My wondrous nightmare | Opinion," 8 Nov. 2019 The Bruins looked inept in many of their first six games. Brian Howell, The Denver Post, "CU Buffs’ Mel Tucker: “I believe in this football team”," 27 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for inept

Time Traveler

The first known use of inept was in 1542

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Statistics for inept

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inept.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for inept


How to pronounce inept (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of inept

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


in·​ept | \ i-ˈnept How to pronounce inept (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inept

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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