See more synonyms for inarticulate on
  1. lacking the ability to express oneself, especially in clear and effective speech: an inarticulate public speaker.
  2. unable to use articulate speech: inarticulate with rage.
  3. not articulate; not uttered or emitted with expressive or intelligible modulations: His mouth stuffed, he could utter only inarticulate sounds.
  4. not fully expressed or expressible: a voice choked with inarticulate agony.
  5. Anatomy, Zoology. not jointed; having no articulation or joint.

Origin of inarticulate

From the Late Latin word inarticulātus, dating back to 1595–1605. See in-3, articulate
Related formsin·ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverbin·ar·tic·u·late·ness, noun

Synonyms for inarticulate

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2. mute, dumb. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for inarticulate

Contemporary Examples of inarticulate

  • Don Draper is an inarticulate slob compared to Richard Dawson.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Kiss Goodbye to Richard Dawson

    Rebecca Dana

    June 4, 2012

  • Joe Biden got in trouble for calling Barack Obama “articulate,” but inarticulate is fine, right?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Gaffes Burst Cain's Bubble

    Michael Tomasky

    October 21, 2011

  • Mere decades earlier, American Jews had watched, trembling and inarticulate, as European Jews were destroyed.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Israel's Palestinian Arab Spring

    Peter Beinart

    May 16, 2011

  • At the simplest level, it shows that the character is inarticulate, which in film often indicates a troubled past.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mumbling Wins Oscars!

    Zachary Pincus-Roth

    March 3, 2010

  • Ignorant and inarticulate as he was, he and his handlers knew how to create at least an ersatz aura of seriousness.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Run, Sarah, Run!

    Michelle Goldberg

    July 23, 2009

Historical Examples of inarticulate

  • Nevertheless, there was no anger in Dr. Ed's mind, only a vague and inarticulate regret.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • He did not speak, but he made an inarticulate noise between a grunt and a sniff.

  • His love partook of the nature of worship, dumb, inarticulate, a silent adoration.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • There was silence as deep as before, after one short, inarticulate murmur.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • Then a strange, inarticulate cry was smothered in her throat.

British Dictionary definitions for inarticulate


  1. unable to express oneself fluently or clearly; incoherent
  2. (of speech, language, etc) unclear or incomprehensible; unintelligibleinarticulate grunts
  3. unable to speak; dumb
  4. unable to be expressed; unvoicedinarticulate suffering
  5. biology having no joints, segments, or articulation
Derived Formsinarticulately, adverbinarticulateness or inarticulacy, noun
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 inarticulate

c.1600, "not clear or intelligible" (of speech), from Late Latin inarticulatus "inarticulate, indistinct," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + articulatus, past participle of articulare (see articulation). Related: Inarticulately; inarticulateness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

inarticulate in Medicine


  1. Uttered without the use of normal words or syllables; incomprehensible as speech or language.
  2. Unable to speak; speechless.
  3. Unable to speak with clarity or eloquence.
  4. Not having joints or segments.
Related formsin′ar•ticu•late•ness null n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.