not complete; lacking some part.
Football. (of a forward pass) not completed; not caught by a receiver.
Engineering. noting a truss the panel points of which are not entirely connected so as to form a system of triangles.Compare complete(def 8), redundant(def 5c).
Logic, Philosophy.
  1. (of an expression or symbol) meaningful only in a specific context.
  2. (of a set of axioms) such that there is at least one true proposition (able to be formulated in terms of the basic ideas of a given system) that is not deducible from the set.Compare complete(def 7).


Education. a temporary grade indicating that a student has not fulfilled one or more of the essential requirements for a course: If I don't hand in my term paper for last semester's English course, the professor is going to change my incomplete to an F.

Origin of incomplete

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Late Latin word incomplētus. See in-3, complete
Related formsin·com·plete·ly, adverbin·com·plete·ness, nounsub·in·com·plete, adjective

Synonyms for incomplete Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for incomplete

Contemporary Examples of incomplete

Historical Examples of incomplete

  • In proportion as the union is incomplete, the derived life is imperfect.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • “than to bide safely here,” -- a common figure of incomplete comparison.



  • Sometimes an incomplete erection is produced, which is insufficient.

  • An incomplete invert declared to me that his ideal would be a man.

  • It may be incomplete, it may be undeveloped, but so far as it goes it contains the truth.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

British Dictionary definitions for incomplete



not complete or finished
not completely developed; imperfect
  1. (of a formal theory) not so constructed that the addition of a non-theorem to the axioms renders it inconsistent
  2. (of an expression) not having a reference of its own but requiring completion by another expression
Derived Formsincompletely, adverbincompleteness or incompletion, 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 incomplete

late 14c., from Latin incompletus "incomplete," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + completus (see complete).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper