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 The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort that takes on cases when national authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute alleged atrocities. Julhas Alam, BostonGlobe.com, "International court gathering evidence in Rohingya case," 4 Feb. 2020 Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who was in charge of a Cedar Rapids precinct, told the Associated Press that some app users were unable to get instructions on how to log in to the system. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, "Here’s why the Iowa results aren’t in yet," 4 Feb. 2020 Jones hit all three free throws, and UTSA was unable to get a shot at the buzzer. Greg Luca, ExpressNews.com, "UTSA endures disappointing loss to last-place Middle Tennessee," 1 Feb. 2020 Those unable or unwilling to get apartments camp along river banks, in parks and train stations. Washington Post, "Downtown Tokyo’s homeless fear removal ahead of Olympics," 23 Jan. 2020 Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "Watch thieves rob Jared Vault in Katy Mills Mall," 22 Jan. 2020 As the single-engine plane was taking off, the plane was unable to get airborne. CBS News, "4 killed in plane crash at Southern California airport," 22 Jan. 2020 To liberals, Kushner was a case study in the dangers of nepotism, a dilettante playing diplomat who was either unable or unwilling to use his political capital to rein in Trump’s worst impulses. Brian Bennett, Time, "Inside Jared Kushner’s Unusual White House Role," 16 Jan. 2020 Investigators have been unable to locate the source of the gunfire. Steve Helling, PEOPLE.com, "Tx. Nurse Accidentally Killed at New Year’s Party by Celebratory Gunfire: 'I Think I’ve Been Shot'," 2 Jan. 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

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unable. Accessed 19 Feb. 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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