View synonyms for incompetent


[ in-kom-pi-tuhnt ]


  1. not competent; lacking qualification or ability; incapable:

    an incompetent candidate.

    Synonyms: unfit, inadequate, unqualified

    Antonyms: qualified, able

  2. characterized by or showing incompetence:

    His incompetent acting ruined the play.

  3. Law.
    1. being unable or legally unqualified to perform specified acts or to be held legally responsible for such acts.
    2. inadmissible, as evidence.


  1. an incompetent person; a mentally deficient person.
  2. Law. a person lacking power to act with legal effectiveness.


/ ɪnˈkɒmpɪtənt /


  1. not possessing the necessary ability, skill, etc to do or carry out a task; incapable
  2. marked by lack of ability, skill, etc
  3. law not legally qualified

    an incompetent witness

  4. (of rock strata, folds, etc) yielding readily to pressure so as to undergo structural deformation


  1. an incompetent person

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Derived Forms

  • inˈcompetently, adverb
  • inˈcompetence, noun

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Other Words From

  • in·compe·tent·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of incompetent1

First recorded in 1590–1600; from Late Latin incompetent- (stem of incompetēns ) “unsuitable.” See in- 3, competent

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Synonym Study

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Example Sentences

Investigations are ongoing, but it’s already clear this was a tragedy of incompetent leadership, failed intelligence and a giant mess of missed or crossed communications.

I just needed to prove it because the city of Washington is notoriously incompetent and always assumes it is right.

It is the reverse, especially now when representative democracy has produced truly incompetent governments in many places.

You are not eligible to vote if you claim voting residence outside the District or have been declared legally incompetent to vote by a court of law.

It was also littered with anti-Whitmer content, including a headline calling her “America’s most incompetent politician,” according to a cached version of the page.

Early on, the sexual protagonist complains that her Molson-drinking husband is pretty much an incompetent Neanderthal.

The cops were as incompetent as they often appear to be in the Holmes stories.

Insufficient protocols or incompetent practices for and by the nurses in the hospital hot zone.

To buy that you would have to accept that Brooks was either negligent or incompetent.

According to the historian John Saunders, he was a “weak, vain, incompetent and cowardly” leader.

It is the fashion there to regard it merely as a device to help an incompetent organist.

In such incompetent hands the malt business soon fell to be a liability rather than an asset.

Promotion came speedily when the guillotine cleared the way in the higher ranks by removing the incompetent and unfortunate.

The acts done under incompetent rulers, by those who disapprove of their claims, come from neither.

It was inelastic, incompetent to adapt itself to changing circumstances.


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