un·​able ˌən-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce unable (audio)
: not able : incapable: such as

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 If a producer is unable to meet their requirements, the actor will receive compensation for seeking help elsewhere, covering a minimum of two hours in the styling chair, according to SAG-AFTRA’S deal. Kalia Richardson, Rolling Stone, 25 Nov. 2023 Many, if not most, will be unable to return home because of the vast damage and the continued presence of Israeli troops in the north. Josef Federman, arkansasonline.com, 23 Nov. 2023 But the company struggled with the demand, and many users were unable to participate at all. Andrew Webster, The Verge, 23 Nov. 2023 Carpenter cut the umbilical cord herself, was unable to stop the baby’s bleeding and didn’t seek medical assistance, court records said. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Nov. 2023 With war crimes investigators and international journalists unable to operate independently in Gaza, United Nations officials and open-source data researchers say the full details of Israel’s bombing campaign remain largely unknown. Anna Schecter, NBC News, 21 Nov. 2023 After all, an OpenAI depleted of so many employees and lacking its visionary leader at the helm might be unable to reliably offer its services and develop new, secure products. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 21 Nov. 2023 Several doctors said unattended bodies had begun decomposing in the courtyard of Al-Shifa, some preyed on by dogs and unable to be cleaned or buried outside because of the risk of gunfire encircling the hospital. Yasmine Salam, NBC News, 15 Nov. 2023 The disappearance was reported to authorities Monday afternoon after crew aboard the Carnival Glory were unable to locate the passenger on the ship, according to the Coast Guard’s Heartland Division's statement on X (formerly known as Twitter). Abigail Adams, Peoplemag, 14 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unable.' 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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near unable

Cite this Entry

“Unable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unable. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


un·​able ˌən-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce unable (audio)
: not able : incapable

More from Merriam-Webster on unable

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!