un·able | \ˌən-ˈā-bəl \

Definition of unable 

: not able : incapable: such as

a : unqualified, incompetent

b : impotent, helpless

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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

Angela Wright, 25, was rushed to a local hospital in June, unable to walk and hallucinating, after she was reportedly bitten in her apartment, Fox News previously reported. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Tennessee woman bitten by brown recluse spider in alleged infested apartment to move," 12 July 2018 After entering the cave system, heavy rain struck the area and flooded the cave, meaning the team were unable to leave. SI.com, "Pogba Dedicates Victory to Rescued Thai Football Team After World Cup Semi Final Win Over Belgium," 11 July 2018 In addition, a North Carolina doctor and his son were part of another medical mission group that was unable to leave Haiti. NBC News, "Strike shuts down Haiti capital after three days of protests," 9 July 2018 Seniors unable to leave their homes may be matched with a volunteer, who can run small errands or take them out to eat. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "Isolated seniors receive help from Meals on Wheels San Antonio," 6 July 2018 But the 13, who were discovered 2km into the cave, are still unable to leave. The Economist, "The Thai cave rescue," 5 July 2018 Serena's using her power to restrict Offred's access to the baby, and Serena doesn't want anything to intrude on this state of pure bliss, and Offred is really being tortured by being so close to her kid, yet unable to even hold her and nurse her. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Handmaid's Tale' Just Set the Stage for "Powerful" Season 2 Finale," 4 July 2018 Guzman-Feliz's sister Genesis was unable to enjoy her personal achievement because of Junior’s death. Niki Mcgloster, Essence.com, "The Quick Read: Kenya Moore Shows Off Her Growing Baby Bump On Instagram," 2 July 2018 Jordan's campaign manager, Michael Rosenow, told the Statesman that the campaign was invited to the rally last night and was unaware that Jordan would be unable to speak at the event. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "Gubernatorial campaign volunteer disrupts Capitol rally for children at border," 30 June 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

21 Oct 2018

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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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Comments on unable

What made you want to look up unable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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