lack of ability; lack of power, capacity, or means: his inability to make decisions.

Origin of inability

1400–50; late Middle English inabilite < Medieval Latin inhabilitās. See in-3, ability

Synonyms for inability

Synonym study Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for inability

Contemporary Examples of inability

Historical Examples of inability

  • 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

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