• synonyms


[in-op-er-uh-buh l, -op-ruh-buh l]
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  1. not operable or practicable.
  2. Medicine/Medical. not admitting of a surgical operation because the pathological condition is not amenable to cure by surgery or because of undue risk.Compare operable(def 1).
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Origin of inoperable

First recorded in 1885–90; in-3 + operable
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for inoperable

deadly, fatal, hopeless, inoperable, illogical, speculative, unworkable, unusable, improbable, unreal, absurd, unwise, quixotic, impossible, unattainable, useless, wrecked, faulty, defective, ruined

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British Dictionary definitions for inoperable


  1. incapable of being implemented or operated; unworkable
  2. surgery not suitable for operation without risk, esp (of a malignant tumour) because metastasis has rendered surgery useless
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Derived Formsinoperability or inoperableness, nouninoperably, 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 inoperable


1856, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + operable.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

inoperable in Medicine


(ĭn-ŏpər-ə-bəl, -ŏprə-)
  1. Unsuitable for a surgical procedure.
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Related formsin•op′er•a•bili•ty n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.