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[in-kuh-men-ser-uh-buh l, -sher-] /ˌɪn kəˈmɛn sər ə bəl, -ʃər-/
not commensurable; having no common basis, measure, or standard of comparison.
utterly disproportionate.
Mathematics. (of two or more quantities) having no common measure.
something that is incommensurable.
Mathematics. one of two or more incommensurable quantities.
Origin of incommensurable
From the Late Latin word incommēnsūrābilis, dating back to 1550-60. See in-3, commensurable
Related forms
incommensurability, incommensurableness, noun
incommensurably, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for incommensurable
Historical Examples
  • In general, it is doubtful if the majority of an American class in geometry get much out of the incommensurable case.

    The Teaching of Geometry David Eugene Smith
  • His ideal is the extraordinary, the gigantic, the overwhelming, the incommensurable.

    French Classics William Cleaver Wilkinson
  • And he comes, not merely in time, pretty close to Defoe, incommensurable as is the genius of the two.

    The English Novel George Saintsbury
  • Lastly, the Pythagoreans discovered the existence of incommensurable lines, or of irrationals.

    Archimedes Thomas Little Heath
  • They may be so unlike and incommensurable, and so inert towards one another, as never to jostle or interfere.

  • In the case of the labourer no such process of deduction is possible; for advantage and expenditure are incommensurable.

    Distributive Justice John A. (John Augustine) Ryan
  • The power of the unknown is incommensurable; and so it is, there is that in a vague threat that terrifies the stoutest heart.

    Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume II. Charles James Lever
  • His personality was made up of many an incommensurable factor that baffled explanation.

  • Life introduces something indeterminate and incommensurable.

    Under the Maples John Burroughs
  • But slavery and education of the people are incommensurable quantities.

British Dictionary definitions for incommensurable


incapable of being judged, measured, or considered comparatively
(postpositive) foll by with. not in accordance; incommensurate
  1. (of two numbers) having an irrational ratio
  2. not having units of the same dimension
  3. unrelated to another measurement by integral multiples
something incommensurable
Derived Forms
incommensurability, incommensurableness, noun
incommensurably, adverb
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 incommensurable

1550s, from Middle French incommensurable or directly from Medieval Latin incommensurabilis, from in- "not, opposite of, without" (see in- (1)) + Late Latin commensurabilis, from Latin com- "with" + mensurabilis "measurable," from mensurare "to measure" (see measure (v.)). Related: Incommensurably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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