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incapable

[in-key-puh-buh l]
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adjective
  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.
  3. without ordinary capability; incompetent.
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noun
  1. a thoroughly incompetent person, especially one of defective mentality.
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Idioms
  1. incapable of,
    1. not having the ability, qualification, or strength for (a specified act or function).
    2. not open to; not susceptible to or admitting: These materials are incapable of exact measurement.
    3. legally unqualified for.
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Origin of incapable

From the Late Latin word incapābilis, dating back to 1585–95. See in-3, capable
Related formsin·ca·pa·bil·i·ty, in·ca·pa·ble·ness, nounin·ca·pa·bly, adverb

Synonyms

See more synonyms for incapable on Thesaurus.com
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. 2. impotent, unqualified.

Antonyms

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

Examples from the Web for incapable

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Without true grace mankind was weak, and incapable of success.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • Keep the capable man down and you may level the incapable one up.

  • He was incapable of speaking, and the driver, busy with his horses, said no more.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Hinde gaped at him, incapable of expressing himself with sufficient force.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Rima, incapable of understanding such a thing, took it differently.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson


British Dictionary definitions for incapable

incapable

adjective
  1. (when postpositive, often foll by of) not capable (of); lacking the ability (to)
  2. powerless or helpless, as through injury or intoxication
  3. (postpositive foll by of) not susceptible (to); not admitting (of)a problem incapable of solution
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Derived Formsincapability or incapableness, nounincapably, 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 incapable

adj.

1590s, from Middle French incapable and directly from Medieval Latin incapabilis, from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + capabilis (see capable). Related: Incapably; incapability.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper