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 Vasquez collapsed at home on Valentine’s Day, unable to move his left arm and leg. Los Angeles Times, "‘You just don’t think it will happen to you.’ Border Patrol agent delayed vaccination, got COVID-19," 12 Apr. 2021 Four-star offensive tackle Luke Montgomery of Findlay High School was unable to make the event. Robert Fenbers, cleveland, "Which Ohio State football prospects stood out at the Ohio Under Armour All-America Camp: Buckeyes Recruiting," 12 Apr. 2021 His stints in jail became punchline fodder for a celebrity culture unable to metabolize much more than stereotypes. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, "DMX Only Wanted to Fly," 12 Apr. 2021 Those unable to attend may submit questions via email at Biz@Taneytownchamber.org. baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Taneytown chamber to host in-person City Council candidates forum April 14," 12 Apr. 2021 As in Phoenix, there were COVID restrictions in place, so Fischer’s family was trapped inside, unable to enjoy the nearby national parks. Lizzie Widdicombe, The New Yorker, "The Moms Who Are Battling Climate Change," 12 Apr. 2021 Despite showing frustration at being unable to break into secure messaging apps like WhatsApp, in some cases, police investigators actually want criminals to use them. Thomas Brewster, Forbes, "How The FBI Unmasked A WhatsApp And Whisper User In A Pedophile Sting," 12 Apr. 2021 Baby Jackson Abbott wasn’t crying and appeared unable to move, and the delivery room became controlled chaos as doctors and nurses immediately rushed him to the neonatal intensive care unit. al, "Despite traumatic childbirth injury, Jackson Abbott excelled as 3-sport star at Maplesville," 11 Apr. 2021 Once the order went into effect, people were unable to move from one base to another, bringing a halt to upward movement within the military. Tawney Beans, The Enquirer, "COVID-19 fallout: UC Air Force ROTC faces setbacks amid pandemic," 11 Apr. 2021

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

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unable. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for unable



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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