in·suf·fi·cien·cy | \ˌin(t)-sə-ˈfi-shən(t)-sē \
plural insufficiencies

Definition of insufficiency 

1 : the quality or state of being insufficient: such as

a : lack of mental or moral fitness : incompetence the insufficiency of this person for public office

b : lack of adequate supply insufficiency of provisions

c : lack of physical power or capacity especially : inability of an organ or body part to function normally renal insufficiency

2 : something that is insufficient or falls short of expectations

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of insufficiency in a Sentence

dealt with the school's insufficiency of art supplies by buying materials out of her own pocket her alleged insufficiency for the job

Recent Examples on the Web

During the 1960 Democratic presidential primary, aides to Lyndon Johnson correctly reported that his opponent, John F. Kennedy, had adrenal insufficiency. David Steinberg,, "Should the president undergo independent medical evaluations?," 24 May 2018 No matter the underlying reason, premature ovarian insufficiency can lead to short, irregular, or completely MIA periods. Korin Miller, SELF, "How Long Does a Period Last, Normally?," 17 May 2018 Spokesman Zhang said the rise in defense spending is partly to compensate for past insufficiency in spending, and is mainly being used to upgrade equipment, improving the lives of servicemen and -women, and to improve training conditions for troops. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "China boosts defense budget seeking ‘world-class’ military, but tells neighbors not to worry," 5 Mar. 2018 Nearly fourth months ago, Boyd, who is from Baltimore, decided to spend 41 percent of her annual salary on surgery for Stanley, who was diagnosed with renal insufficiency in November 2016. Fox News, "Cat owner spends $19G on surgery for 17-year-old pet," 15 Mar. 2018 The histopathology report states the cause of death to be most likely acute cardiac arrest potentially associated with early subclinical cardiac insufficiency found during the necropsy. Matt Rocheleau,, "The details of 40 animal deaths, injuries, losses aboard US airlines," 15 Mar. 2018 Bashir, who turns 80 in August, was treated in a Jakarta hospital on Thursday for pooling of blood in the legs, a common condition in the elderly known as chronic venous insufficiency, and later returned to prison. Washington Post, "Australia urges Indonesia against showing cleric leniency," 2 Mar. 2018 Finally, a universal expansion of U.S. health care would resolve the insufficiencies of a privatized system and allow rural people to seek treatment for the physical consequences of drinking dirty water. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "Rural America’s Drinking-Water Crisis," 12 Feb. 2018 The population at highest risk for preterm birth because of hypertensive disorders or placental insufficiency? Jodi Frances Abbott, Washington Post, "There is medication to stop preterm births, but many women don’t get treatment," 29 Oct. 2017

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

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about insufficiency

Share insufficiency

Statistics for insufficiency

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for insufficiency

The first known use of insufficiency was in 1526

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for insufficiency


in·suf·fi·cien·cy | \ˌin(t)-sə-ˈfish-ən-sē \
plural insufficiencies

Medical Definition of insufficiency 

: the quality or state of not being sufficient: as

a : lack of adequate supply of something an insufficiency of vitamins

b : lack of physical power or capacity especially : inability of an organ or bodily part to function normally renal insufficiency pulmonary insufficiency

Other Words from insufficiency

insufficient \-ənt \ adjective
insufficient blood flow to the brain

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on insufficiency

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


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

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!