un·​able | \ ˌən-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce unable (audio) \

Definition of unable

: not able : incapable: such as

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Examples of unable in a Sentence

I was unable to afford the trip. He was unable to play tennis after the injury.
Recent Examples on the Web Investigators have been unable to determine who killed them or whether a lone serial killer or several suspects were involved. CBS News, ""Breakthrough": Remains identified in Long Island serial killer case," 25 May 2020 Studies have shown that the number of stillbirths and maternal deaths increased in some countries hit by Ebola, because women were unable to access the appropriate services. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "Coronavirus is killing more men. But the lockdown is disastrous for women and their rights," 24 May 2020 But what will matter the most is what happens to financial institutions’ bottom line in the coming year – and how many customers are unable to make loan payments. Jeff Bollier, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin banks and credit unions' strong balance sheets should help them -- and their customers -- weather economic downturn," 22 May 2020 The overwhelming majority of people who tested positive were unable to work from home or made less than $50,000 a year. Joaquin Palomino, San Francisco Chronicle, "Latinos’ coronavirus burden," 8 May 2020 Prosecutors also were unable to determine her motive. Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star, "Coronavirus spread in Indiana prisons threatens hundreds of elderly inmates," 26 Apr. 2020 As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more and more renters are unable to pay for housing costs. Abigail Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle, "Thousands of Texans are protected from eviction until Aug. 23. Here's how to find out if you are.," 22 Apr. 2020 The man was then unable to access his email account. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Brook Park man seeking porn has email account, personal information stolen," 15 May 2020 As a respiratory therapist attached Austin to a ventilator in Las Vegas — his weakened lungs unable to oxygenate his blood — the San Francisco medical examiner was at work one state away. Lizzie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, "When the coronavirus came to San Francisco’s Bayview, it attacked the heart of the historically black neighborhood: the elders," 15 May 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for unable

Time Traveler

The first known use of unable was in the 14th century

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Statistics for unable

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unable. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for unable


How to pronounce unable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of unable

: not able to do something


un·​able | \ ˌən-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce unable (audio) \

Kids Definition of unable

: not able I am unable to attend.

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More from Merriam-Webster on unable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unable

Spanish Central: Translation of unable

Nglish: Translation of unable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unable for Arabic Speakers

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