or in·com·pe·ten·cy

[in-kom-pi-tuh ns or in-kom-pi-tuh n-see]


the quality or condition of being incompetent; lack of ability.
Law. the condition of lacking power to act with legal effectiveness.

Origin of incompetence

1655–65; variant (with -ence for -ency) of earlier incompetency. See incompetent, -cy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for incompetency

Historical Examples of incompetency

  • For all the grandeur of their names they rivalled one another in incompetency and timidity.


    Frank Fox

  • "Incompetency, if you want the brutal truth," Dudley broke in not unkindly.

    The La Chance Mine Mystery

    Susan Carleton Jones

  • General Toombs frequently referred to the incompetency of Mr. Davis.

    Robert Toombs

    Pleasant A. Stovall

  • Davis' incompetency is more apparent as our danger increases.

    Robert Toombs

    Pleasant A. Stovall

  • Furthermore, I said I would not stand for the discharge of any man for incompetency.

    An Anarchist Woman

    Hutchins Hapgood

Word Origin and History for incompetency

1610s; see incompetence.



1660s, "inadequacy;" 1716, "want of skill," from French incompétence (mid-16c.), from in- "not, opposite of, without" (see in- (1)) + compétence (see competence). Native formation incompetency (from incompetent + -cy) is attested from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

incompetency in Medicine




The quality of being incompetent or incapable of performing a function, as the failure of the cardiac valves to close properly.
The condition of being not legally qualified, as to stand trial.
The inability to distinguish right from wrong or to manage one's affairs.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.