in·​op·​er·​a·​ble | \ (ˌ)in-ˈä-p(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce inoperable (audio) \

Definition of inoperable

1 : not treatable or remediable by surgery an inoperable brain tumor
2 : not functioning : inoperative

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of inoperable in a Sentence

a patient with inoperable cancer The device makes the car inoperable when a key is not used to start it.

Recent Examples on the Web

Moskowitz has an inoperable neurological condition HHT (hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia) that was discovered in December. Scott Springer,, "Watch Sycamore lacrosse player with brain condition get one last play," 9 May 2018 The auto maker said Friday that the vehicles may have a flaw that prevents the brake-light switch from working properly, which could render the brake lights inoperable and even prevent the engine from starting. Mike Colias, WSJ, "Subaru Recalls Cars to Fix Glitch Possibly Caused by Fabric Softener," 1 Mar. 2019 Pushing through the vast expanse of space at 31,500 MPH (50,700 KMH), even the tiniest unexpected ice or dust particle could render the piano-sized craft inoperable. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "New Horizons Will Spend New Years Exploring Ultima Thule, a Billion Miles Past Pluto," 19 Dec. 2018 According to the news outlet, she was born with health conditions including an inoperable cyst on her brain, severe scoliosis, and cerebral palsy. Megan Stein, Country Living, "See the Incredible Moment Keith Urban Made a Dying Fan's Last Wish Come True," 20 Oct. 2018 Since his tumor is inoperable, Taliq has been receiving radiation treatments and taking 16 medications. Emily Dabau, Good Housekeeping, "Texas Mom Is Asking for Birthday Cards for Her Son Battling Cancer," 17 July 2015 Will there be highways cluttered with thousands of inoperable vehicles? WSJ, "Mr. Nader Misses the Mark on Driverless Cars," 30 Aug. 2018 Many gas stations were inoperable either because of quake damage or from people stealing fuel, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in Jakarta. Niniek Karmini, The Seattle Times, "Aid slowly is tricking to Indonesian disaster-hit areas," 2 Oct. 2018 At the time, Nugroho said that the buoys were inoperable due to either vandalism or lack of funds for maintenance. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Indonesia's Tsunami Warning System Hasn't Been Operational Since 2012," 1 Oct. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of inoperable

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for inoperable

probably from French inopérable

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inoperable

Statistics for inoperable

Last Updated

24 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inoperable

The first known use of inoperable was in 1886

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inoperable



English Language Learners Definition of inoperable

medical : not able to be corrected or removed by surgery
formal : not capable of being used


in·​op·​er·​a·​ble | \ (ˈ)in-ˈäp-(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce inoperable (audio) \

Medical Definition of inoperable

: not treatable or remediable by or suitable for surgery an advanced and inoperable cancer a developing cataract still inoperable

Other Words from inoperable

inoperability \ (ˌ)in-​ˌäp-​(ə-​)rə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē How to pronounce inoperability (audio) \ noun, plural inoperabilities

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on inoperable

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


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!