• synonyms


[in-i-fish-uh nt]
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  1. not efficient; unable to effect or achieve the desired result with reasonable economy of means.
  2. lacking in ability, incompetent.
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Origin of inefficient

First recorded in 1740–50; in-3 + efficient
Related formsin·ef·fi·cient·ly, adverb


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2. See incapable.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

badly, carelessly, inadequately

Examples from the Web for inefficiently

Historical Examples

  • But there seems little doubt that the registers were inefficiently kept.

    The History of London

    Walter Besant

  • Better leave no will at all than one inefficiently constructed.

    Around The Tea-Table

    T. De Witt Talmage

  • My only regret is that, as my guest, you should be inefficiently served.

  • Justice must not fail because the agencies of enforcement are either delinquent or inefficiently organized.

  • Europeans would not do the work; the blacks would not, unless paid, and even then inefficiently.

    The Pools of Silence

    H. de Vere Stacpoole

British Dictionary definitions for inefficiently


  1. unable to perform a task or function to the best advantage; wasteful or incompetent
  2. unable to produce the desired result
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Derived Formsinefficiency, nouninefficiently, 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 inefficiently



1750, "not producing the desired effect," from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + efficient. Related: Inefficiency (1749); inefficiently.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper