in·​op·​er·​a·​ble (ˌ)in-ˈä-p(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce inoperable (audio)
: not treatable or remediable by surgery
an inoperable brain tumor
: not functioning : inoperative

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 The device becomes inoperable if someone tries to mess with that. WIRED, 9 Nov. 2023 The gun was not loaded and was determined to be inoperable, prosecutors said. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 17 Nov. 2023 The New Orleans Sewage and Water Board remains in desperate need of funding to tackle necessary repairs to its four water intake structures—one of which that has been inoperable for 34 years. Essence, 10 Nov. 2023 Regarding listening devices and the camera’s AI capabilities — a feature that can be used to analyze things like traffic flow and bicycle safety — Lara and company representatives stressed those functions are inoperable since that’s not how the department plans to use the network. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Oct. 2023 Hospitals treating civilians desperately need fuel to operate generators because the area's main powerplant is inoperable, but the Israeli government fears that fuel could also be of great value to Hamas as its fighters continue to launch rockets. Shannon K. Crawford, ABC News, 19 Oct. 2023 After the couple worked on the car together for an hour, the vehicle was still inoperable. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 5 Oct. 2023 The phone lines in the cave have become inoperable, so that communication between the surface and Mark’s location is extremely slow. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 7 Sep. 2023 Minutes before she was set to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt earlier this week, Israeli airstrikes left the crossing inoperable. Noreen Nasir, Fortune, 15 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inoperable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from French inopérable

First Known Use

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of inoperable was in 1886

Dictionary Entries Near inoperable

Cite this Entry

“Inoperable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​op·​er·​a·​ble (ˈ)in-ˈäp-(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce inoperable (audio)
: not treatable by surgery
an inoperable cancer
: not in working order : inoperative

Medical Definition


in·​op·​er·​a·​ble (ˈ)in-ˈäp-(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce inoperable (audio)
: not treatable or remediable by or suitable for surgery
an advanced and inoperable cancer
a developing cataract still inoperable
inoperability noun
plural inoperabilities

More from Merriam-Webster on inoperable

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