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See more synonyms for inadequate on Thesaurus.com
  1. not adequate or sufficient; inept or unsuitable.
  2. Psychiatry. ineffectual in response to emotional, social, intellectual, and physical demands in the absence of any obvious mental or physical deficiency.
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Origin of inadequate

First recorded in 1665–75; in-3 + adequate
Related formsin·ad·e·quate·ly, adverb

Synonyms for inadequate

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Antonyms for inadequate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for inadequate

poor, unequal, lacking, deficient, weak, meager, sketchy, scarce, faulty, incompetent, incomplete, skimpy, bare, barren, bush-league, dry, failing, feeble, glitch, imperfect

Examples from the Web for inadequate

Contemporary Examples of inadequate

Historical Examples of inadequate

  • They are really channels for the transmission, adequate or inadequate, of sense impressions.

    De Profundis

    Oscar Wilde

  • The light was daylight, but it was inadequate, as though charged with mist.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • My attempt at reproducing their spirit is pale and inadequate.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • Beast is too inadequate a term to describe it, but I know no words to tell its form.

    There is a Reaper ...

    Charles V. De Vet

  • A man can only speak so long as he does not feel his speech to be partial and inadequate.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

British Dictionary definitions for inadequate


  1. not adequate; insufficient
  2. not capable or competent; lacking
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Derived Formsinadequacy, nouninadequately, 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

Word Origin and History for inadequate


1670s; see in- (1) "not, opposite of" + adequate. Related: Inadequately.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper