in·​op·​er·​a·​tive | \ (ˌ)in-ˈä-p(ə-)rə-tiv How to pronounce inoperative (audio) , -ˈä-pə-ˌrā-\

Definition of inoperative

: not operative: such as
a : not functioning an inoperative clock
b : having no effect or force an inoperative law

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Other Words from inoperative

inoperativeness noun

Examples of inoperative in a Sentence

The accident had rendered the vehicle inoperative. With the new federal law in place, the state law has become inoperative.

Recent Examples on the Web

Chiu’s office said the bill would not prevent cities from enacting their own laws to address abandoned, wrecked or inoperative vehicles. Laura J. Nelson,, "Towing a car can be financially ruinous. Should California cities do it anyway?," 12 June 2019 The protocol was devised to ensure that messages of any length could be sent from one computer to another even if parts of the network were inoperative—if the country were under nuclear attack, for example. Popular Mechanics, "The Death of the Internet," 7 Feb. 2019 In hospitals across the country, medical equipment is antiquated, inoperative or nonexistent. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, "A Yemeni toddler fought for his life in a hospital while adults battled each other," 25 June 2018 Those previous actions primarily covered angle-of-attack sensors that were blocked or rendered temporarily inoperative by icing. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Lion Air Crash Probe Eyes Sensor Hazards Stretching Back Years," 18 Nov. 2018 Failure to perform this step will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Apple confirms its T2 security chip blocks some third-party repairs of new Macs," 12 Nov. 2018 Flying with an inoperative engine is a skill that pilots practice frequently in simulator training sessions. John Cox, USA TODAY, "Ask the Captain: How long are flights over water crossing the Atlantic?," 24 June 2018 All twin-engine aircraft can fly with one engine inoperative. John Cox, USA TODAY, "Ask the Captain: How long are flights over water crossing the Atlantic?," 24 June 2018 The Honda becomes inoperative just after the six-minute mark near Tamiami Trail. Carli Teproff, Charles Rabin, Rebecca Ellis And David Ovalle, miamiherald, "Video shows wild chase down Florida's Turnpike after trooper's car hit intentionally," 6 June 2018

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

circa 1631, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for inoperative

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for inoperative

The first known use of inoperative was circa 1631

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More Definitions for inoperative



English Language Learners Definition of inoperative

: not capable of being used
: having no force or effect


in·​op·​er·​a·​tive | \ i-ˈnä-pə-rə-tiv How to pronounce inoperative (audio) \

Legal Definition of inoperative

: having no force or effect an inoperative will

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More from Merriam-Webster on inoperative

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inoperative

Spanish Central: Translation of inoperative

Nglish: Translation of inoperative for Spanish Speakers

Comments on inoperative

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


something desired as essential

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