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[in-uh-bil-i-tee] /ˌɪn əˈbɪl ɪ ti/
lack of ability; lack of power, capacity, or means:
his inability to make decisions.
Origin of inability
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English inabilite < Medieval Latin inhabilitās. See in-3, ability
incapability, incapacity, impotence, incompetence.
Synonym Study
See disability. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for inability
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is one stream which I dread my inability to stem—it is the tide of Popular Opinion.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • The inability of the men only, will put a period to our daily marches.

  • Her assertion was disregarded as to the inability to change.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The weak spot in his argument was his inability to suggest a reasonable motive.

    The Monster Men Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Kirkwood groaned with despair of his inability to fathom the abyss of his self-contempt.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
British Dictionary definitions for inability


lack of ability or means; incapacity
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for inability

mid-15c., inhabilite, "disqualification for office," from in- (1) + ability. Earlier was unability "incapability; incompetence" (late 14c.). General sense by c.1500.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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