in·​op·​er·​a·​tive (ˌ)in-ˈä-p(ə-)rə-tiv How to pronounce inoperative (audio)
: not operative: such as
: not functioning
an inoperative clock
: having no effect or force
an inoperative law
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 More than 30 officers were killed from January to June, and more than 400 police facilities are inoperative because of criminal attacks, according to Human Rights Watch. Dánica Coto, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 Aug. 2023 The plants will become inoperative in the first half of 2024. William Thornton |, al, 7 Aug. 2023 But these small and exposed possessions could easily be rendered inoperative in wartime by the U.S. military. Stephen G. Brooks, Foreign Affairs, 18 Apr. 2023 Faced with some inoperative equipment and loss of radar assistance, Hubbard directed Coast Guard Air Station Detroit to calculate the hospital’s position relative to a nearby transmitter, while coordinating his arrival over the county emergency radio network. Staff, Hartford Courant, 7 Nov. 2022 Those inspections did not include interviews with landowners or farmers who live and work in proximity to the project and had been complaining to the company for years about inoperative and heavily soiled turbines and seemingly inadequate maintenance. oregonlive, 17 Jan. 2023 The backup light switch may corrode and become inoperative, which can result in the backup lights not illuminating and the rearview camera image not displaying when the vehicle is in reverse. Detroit Free Press, 12 Aug. 2022 Some observers believe that, were TSMC’s fabs to be rendered inoperative, the U.S. government would move forcefully to broker a partnership between U.S. competitors Intel and Nvidia. Rob Toews, Forbes, 7 May 2023 The gruesome slam came at 14:24 of the third period of Game 7, did not get penalized, and rendered Meier inoperative the rest of the night and again for Game 1 of the subsequent Devils-Hurricanes series (a 5-1 Devils loss). Kevin Paul Dupont,, 6 May 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1631, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inoperative was circa 1631

Dictionary Entries Near inoperative

Cite this Entry

“Inoperative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​op·​er·​a·​tive (ˈ)in-ˈäp-(ə-)rət-iv How to pronounce inoperative (audio)
: not functioning : producing no effect
an inoperative law

Legal Definition


in·​op·​er·​a·​tive i-ˈnä-pə-rə-tiv How to pronounce inoperative (audio)
: having no force or effect
an inoperative will

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