[ in-key-puh-buhl ]
See synonyms for: incapableincapability on

  1. not capable.

  2. not having the necessary ability, qualification, or strength to perform some specified act or function: As an administrator, he is simply incapable.

  1. without ordinary capability; incompetent.

  1. a thoroughly incompetent person, especially one of defective mentality.

Idioms about incapable

  1. incapable of,

    • not having the ability, qualification, or strength for (a specified act or function).

    • not open to; not susceptible to or admitting: These materials are incapable of exact measurement.

    • legally unqualified for.

Origin of incapable

From the Late Latin word incapābilis, dating back to 1585–95. See in-3, capable

synonym study For incapable

1. Incapable, incompetent, inefficient, unable are applied to a person or thing that is lacking in ability, preparation, or power for whatever is to be done. Incapable usually means inherently lacking in ability or power: incapable of appreciating music; a bridge incapable of carrying heavy loads. Incompetent, generally used only of persons, means unfit or unqualified for a particular task: incompetent as an administrator. Inefficient means wasteful in the use of effort or power: an inefficient manager; inefficient methods. Unable usually refers to a temporary condition of inability to do some specific thing: unable to relax, to go to a concert.

Other words for incapable

Opposites for incapable

Other words from incapable

  • in·ca·pa·bil·i·ty, in·ca·pa·ble·ness, noun
  • in·ca·pa·bly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use incapable in a sentence

  • Mobs of people filled the streets, wildly denouncing the incapability of a Government which could lead them to such disaster.

    The Philippine Islands | John Foreman
  • Mr. King testily asked Ann Canham, when she was timidly confessing her incapability in the culinary art.

    Trevlyn Hold | Mrs. Henry Wood
  • "A distinct case of intoxication plus incapability," observed Granby.

  • The most painful thing of all was to hear him improvise on stringed instruments, owing to his incapability of tuning them.

    Life of Beethoven | Anton Schindler
  • His Pierrot of the Minute was himself, and his Cynara was the ever vanishing vision of his own insecurity and incapability.

    Adventures in the Arts | Marsden Hartley

British Dictionary definitions for incapable


/ (ɪnˈkeɪpəbəl) /

  1. (when postpositive, often foll by of) not capable (of); lacking the ability (to)

  2. powerless or helpless, as through injury or intoxication

  1. (postpositive foll by of) not susceptible (to); not admitting (of): a problem incapable of solution

Derived forms of incapable

  • incapability or incapableness, noun
  • incapably, 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