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[in-kuh n-sis-tuh nt] /ˌɪn kənˈsɪs tənt/
lacking in harmony between the different parts or elements; self-contradictory:
an inconsistent story.
lacking agreement, as one thing with another or two or more things in relation to each other; at variance:
a summary that is inconsistent with the previously stated facts.
not consistent in principles, conduct, etc.:
He's so inconsistent we never know if he'll be kind or cruel.
acting at variance with professed principles.
Logic. incompatible (def 4b).
Origin of inconsistent
First recorded in 1640-50; in-3 + consistent
Related forms
inconsistently, adverb
Can be confused
incontinent, inconsistent (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. incoherent. 2. discrepant, disagreeing, irreconcilable. Inconsistent, incompatible, incongruous refer to things that are out of keeping with each other. That which is inconsistent involves variance, discrepancy, or even contradiction, especially from the point of view of truth, reason, or logic: His actions are inconsistent with his statements. Incompatible implies incapability of close association or harmonious relationship, as from differences of nature, character, temperament, and the like: actions incompatible with honesty of purpose; qualities that make two people incompatible. Something that is incongruous is inappropriate or out of keeping, often to the point of being ridiculous or absurd: Incongruous characters or situations frequently provide a basis for comedy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for inconsistent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These ideas in a hypocrite appear to be inconsistent, but in reality are not.

    Toilers of the Sea Victor Hugo
  • Therefore also the mores, if they are affected by 611asceticism, are inconsistent and contradictory.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • He earned his fate—he was utterly unreliable and inconsistent.'

    Old Kensington Miss Thackeray
  • This arrangement is inconsistent with the sales and use potential of the device in question.

    Final Weapon Everett B. Cole
  • He always denied that in supporting this bill he had been inconsistent, and insisted that it was one for revenue.

British Dictionary definitions for inconsistent


lacking in consistency, agreement, or compatibility; at variance
containing contradictory elements
irregular or fickle in behaviour or mood
(maths) Also incompatible. (of two or more equations) not having one common set of values of the variables: x + 2y = 5 and x + 2y = 6 are inconsistent
(logic) (of a set of propositions) enabling an explicit contradiction to be validly derived
Derived Forms
inconsistently, 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 inconsistent

1640s, "not agreeing in substance or form," from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + consistent. Related: Inconsistently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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