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

Investigators were unable to identify the suspect overnight. Julian Gill, Houston Chronicle, "Man stabbed to death at bus stop in SW Houston," 14 June 2019 Cousins is now 17 months removed from his Achilles injury and still out of sorts: stymied when moving laterally and unable to get much lift at all. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "The Entire NBA Changed When Kevin Durant Suffered an Achilles Injury," 11 June 2019 Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time. Experiencing significant mood changes. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al.com, "Body found hanged from tree near Fairhope in possible suicide," 10 June 2019 Some people say fury makes them blind, unable to see the world around them. Longreads, "Demonology: A Woman’s Right to Fury," 10 June 2019 According to the outlet, his wife was on vacation in Italy with their younger son and unable to reach her husband. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, "Anchor Todd Tongen Killed Himself as He Believed He Had Same Dementia That Killed His Mom: Brother," 6 June 2019 As of the beginning of 2019, the ERC was not only behind in its loan repayments to China, but also unable to front the remainder of the management fees for the Chinese companies operating the railway. Yunnan Chen, Quartz Africa, "Ethiopia and Kenya are struggling to manage debt for their Chinese-built railways," 4 June 2019 The girls were all half naked and unable to walk or talk. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Woman Reported That She Was Drugged At YouTuber Jake Paul's Recent House Party," 8 May 2019 The Taiwanese military is woefully undermanned, unable to supply a bare minimum of soldiers to defend the... WSJ, "Now Is the Time for U.S. to Support Taiwan," 9 Apr. 2019

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

17 Jun 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 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

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

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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