in·​ca·​pa·​ble | \ (ˌ)in-ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce incapable (audio) \

Definition of incapable

1 : lacking capacity, ability, or qualification for the purpose or end in view: such as
a : not able or fit for the doing or performance : incompetent
b : not being in a state or of a kind to admit : insusceptible
c archaic : not able to take in, hold, or keep
d archaic : not receptive
2 : lacking legal qualification or power (as by reason of mental incompetence) : disqualified

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from incapable

incapability \ (ˌ)in-​ˌkā-​pə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce incapable (audio) \ noun
incapableness \ (ˌ)in-​ˈkā-​pə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce incapable (audio) \ noun
incapably \ (ˌ)in-​ˈkā-​pə-​blē How to pronounce incapable (audio) \ adverb

Examples of incapable in a Sentence

hired a supremely incapable assistant who only made a mess of things
Recent Examples on the Web Everyone’s had that teacher in their past who was incapable of keeping a lecture short. Serenity Gibbons, Forbes, 21 Sep. 2021 The book on Clay Helton was that the coach was incapable of adjusting at halftime. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 19 Sep. 2021 Now maybe this can be taken with a grain of salt, because Western Carolina -- bless them -- was incapable of putting up any sort of resistance for the OU offense at any point in the game. R.j. Coyle, Dallas News, 12 Sep. 2021 Presidents normally rely on their staff for advice and to save them from themselves; Trump appears incapable of listening to either medical or political professionals. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, 5 Oct. 2020 Despite having decent support from the running game that accumulated 127 yards on the ground, Johnston and backup Dylan Hopkins were incapable of establishing an offensive rhythm that was at any time unpredictable or savvy. Evan Dudley, al, 12 Sep. 2021 McIntyre and Sheamus are incapable of having a bad match. Alfred Konuwa, Forbes, 7 Sep. 2021 Korthuis grew up in Emmonak, and is incapable of imagining the Yukon without salmon. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Sep. 2021 The White House has said the administration didn't want to create the impression, through mass evacuations early on, that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was incapable of holding together his government as the Taliban advanced. Jeremy Herb, CNN, 1 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incapable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of incapable

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for incapable

Middle French, from in- + capable capable

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About incapable

Time Traveler for incapable

Time Traveler

The first known use of incapable was in 1594

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near incapable




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for incapable

Last Updated

25 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incapable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for incapable



English Language Learners Definition of incapable

: not able to do something : not capable


in·​ca·​pa·​ble | \ in-ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce incapable (audio) \

Kids Definition of incapable

: not able to do something Penguins are incapable of flight.



Legal Definition of incapable

: lacking legal qualification or power (as by reason of mental incompetence) — see also incapacity

More from Merriam-Webster on incapable

Nglish: Translation of incapable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incapable for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!