un·​able | \ ˌən-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce unable (audio) \

Definition of unable

: not able : incapable: such as

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 Governments set emissions limits, and companies that exceed them can sell credits to those unable to do so. Ken Silverstein, Forbes, 22 June 2022 Crowds have gathered at the major landmark for years, but were unable to do so for two years due to restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Abigail Adams, PEOPLE.com, 21 June 2022 One boy remembers being unable to do his homework early in the morning because there wasn’t enough power for his family’s one lamp. Bjorn Lomborg, WSJ, 20 June 2022 Rowe also faced the death penalty but was sentenced to life without parole last year after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision during his sentencing. Shaddi Abusaid, ajc, 17 June 2022 The Associated Press was unable to reach Nitz for comment this week. Fox News, 16 June 2022 He had been scheduled to appear in person but was unable to do so when his wife went into labor. Norman Eisen, CNN, 14 June 2022 Police were unable to answer Friday if any suspects had been identified and did not have an estimate as to how many people were in the area when the shooting began. Elliot Hughes, Journal Sentinel, 3 June 2022 After the three-time most valuable player regained the Angels’ lead with a two-run homer in the seventh, the team’s bullpen — specifically Kyle Barraclough and Aaron Loup — was unable to hold things together. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near unable



Una boat

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Statistics for unable

Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Unable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unable. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for unable


un·​able | \ ˌən-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce unable (audio) \

Kids Definition of unable

: not able I am unable to attend.

More from Merriam-Webster on unable

Nglish: Translation of unable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unable for Arabic Speakers


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