in·​ept | \ i-ˈnept How to pronounce inept (audio) \

Definition of inept

1 : generally incompetent : bungling inept leadership
2 : lacking in fitness or aptitude : unfit inept at sports
3 : not suitable to the time, place, or occasion : inappropriate often to an absurd degree an inept metaphor
4 : lacking sense or reason : foolish

Other Words from inept

ineptly \ i-​ˈnep(t)-​lē How to pronounce inept (audio) \ adverb
ineptness \ i-​ˈnept-​nəs How to pronounce inept (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for inept

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of inept in a Sentence

Not only does the post have a narrow mandate, covering such sexy subjects as nuclear waste and solar energy, but the secretary presides over the most inept bureaucrats in the land. — Franklin Foer, New Republic, 3 July 2000 The real hackers have an understanding of technology at a basic level.  … The rest are talentless poseurs and hangers-on, either completely inept or basic criminals. — Bruce Schneier, Secrets & Lies, 2000 To Cornelius, the White House travel office must have seemed—as it would have to any of the others who had served on the tight ship of the campaign's travel operation—an appallingly inept … operation. — Peter J. Boyer, New Yorker, 15 Apr. 1996 He was completely inept at sports. He made an inept attempt to apologize.
Recent Examples on the Web The three-time Cy Young Award winner got a head start on what's sure to be a celebration of his career by dazzling the struggling Angels, who have been offensively inept while losing 10 of their previous 12. Greg Beacham, ajc, 16 July 2022 Anyone who’s sat through an inept or awkward corporate presentation at work can attest that the Jan. 6 hearings are not that. Inkoo Kang, Washington Post, 23 June 2022 They have been decimated by injuries, particularly to their starting rotation, and their offense has been inept, averaging just 2.87 runs per game, the lowest of any team since the 1968 Chicago White Sox. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 23 June 2022 For example, the current county administration is, at best, inept. cleveland, 14 May 2022 The Flyers looked almost as inept as the defending Stanley Cup champions did in all but Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. Gene Myers, Detroit Free Press, 1 June 2022 The Celtics took off from there, their run eventually growing to 24-2, the Heat nearly as inept as their 18-1 start to Monday night’s Game 4 loss in Boston. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 26 May 2022 As the big boss’s daughter, inept and entitled at every turn, Kayla embodies Hollywood nepotism. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 25 May 2022 It should be noted the talents of the two young newcomers are perfectly sound, in fact, Webb’s raw innocence and matured understanding of his standing in a racially inept world, are incredibly rich, even if the messaging can be worrisome. Clayton Davis, Variety, 20 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of inept

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for inept

Middle French inepte, from Latin ineptus, from in- + aptus apt

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inept.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for inept


in·​ept | \ i-ˈnept How to pronounce inept (audio) \

Kids Definition of inept

1 : not suited to the occasion an inept remark
2 : lacking in skill or ability an inept painter

Other Words from inept

ineptly adverb
ineptness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on inept

Nglish: Translation of inept for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inept for Arabic Speakers


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