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

Definition of inept

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

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Other Words from inept

ineptly \ i-​ˈnep(t)-​lē How to pronounce inept (audio) \ adverb
ineptness \ i-​ˈnept-​nəs How to pronounce inept (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 Yet the passing attack has been so inept that New England has gone three consecutive games with throwing for even 125 yards. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Lamar Jackson is exactly why nobody wants to plays the Ravens in the AFC playoffs," 21 Dec. 2020 The Rams had won four of five to surge to the top of the NFC West, but their inconsistent offense was inept, and their elite defense wasn’t sharp, allowing the Jets to convert seven third downs. Greg Beacham,, "Jets upset Rams, revel in first win of tumultuous season," 20 Dec. 2020 The Rams had won four of five to surge to the top of the NFC West, but their inconsistent offense was inept, while their elite defense wasn’t sharp, allowing the Jets to convert seven third downs. oregonlive, "New York Jets shock the Los Angeles Rams for their first win of the season: Recap, score, stats and more," 20 Dec. 2020 Last week's 36-7 against Chicago's inept offense was particularly embarrassing. Barry Wilner, ajc, "A winner: Chiefs vs Saints, with Brees back to face Mahomes," 19 Dec. 2020 Seattle's defense entered the game allowing the most yards in the NFL and most yards passing but held Philadelphia's inept offense to 250 yards. Rob Maaddi, Star Tribune, "Metcalf, Wilson lead Seahawks over Eagles 23-17," 30 Nov. 2020 The Chargers’ looked inept on special teams and archaic on offense during the loss to the Patriots. oregonlive, "Chargers will retain coach Anthony Lynn through the end of the season: Report," 8 Dec. 2020 New York teams look inept in comparison One month into the season, the San Francisco 49ers are creating a problem for many other NFL franchises and their respective fan bases. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: ‘San Diego Niners’ help Shanahan’s ailing team make other NFL clubs look less adaptive," 28 Sep. 2020 But those issues come hand in hand with something else plaguing the jobless: an inept unemployment insurance system that is struggling to get Americans their benefits, let alone on time. Anne Sraders, Fortune, "Why the unemployment system is broken and how Biden plans to fix it," 16 Dec. 2020

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 2

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

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inept.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on inept

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