un·​able | \ ˌən-ˈā-bəl \

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

So unable to halt mass emigration or back off on immigration, Orbán decided to force Hungarians to work more without any immediate reward. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Hungary’s prime minister stole the country’s democracy. Now Hungarians are rising up.," 17 Dec. 2018 Apple has been struggling of late in the Indian market, with its pricey phones unable to compete with cheaper and more popular models from brands like Samsung and Xiaomi. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Apple will reportedly start assembling its premium iPhone models in India," 27 Dec. 2018 Though the trip had reportedly been planned for weeks, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was invited to meet the president only two hours in advance, and was unable to make it to the event. Alexia Underwood, Vox, "Trump’s secret trip to Iraq didn’t quite go as planned," 27 Dec. 2018 Being unable to feel the strings hanging from your cervix doesn’t automatically mean your IUD has migrated and left you vulnerable to pregnancy; the strings can curl up around the cervix or just generally be hard to feel. Korin Miller, SELF, "The Truth About Getting Pregnant When You Have an IUD," 27 Dec. 2018 These games were of varying quality, and home systems were unable to replicate the artistic styles that users had come to appreciate from comic pages. Michael Thompson, Ars Technica, "Drawn together: The love affair between comics and games," 24 Dec. 2018 While many beachgoers said the serpent was likely a diamondback rattlesnake, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was unable to formally identify the snake based off photos alone, biologists with the organization told the newspaper. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Rattlesnake emerged from water in Florida, beachgoers say," 27 Sep. 2018 In a narrower test, Dutch subjects were unable to identify even the laughs of other Dutchmen. Popular Mechanics, "Can You Tell Someone's Nationality From Their Laugh?," 9 Aug. 2018 In later testimony, a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department detective testified the same witness was unable to identify Winslow’s picture in a photo lineup during the investigation. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "Alleged rape victim identifies Kellen Winslow Jr.'s lawyer as assailant," 11 July 2018

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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Statistics for unable

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for unable

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

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More Definitions for unable



English Language Learners Definition of unable

: not able to do something


un·​able | \ ˌən-ˈā-bəl \

Kids Definition of unable

: not able I am unable to attend.

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More from Merriam-Webster on unable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unable

Spanish Central: Translation of unable

Nglish: Translation of unable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unable for Arabic Speakers

Comments on unable

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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