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[in-uh-bil-i-tee] /ˌɪn əˈbɪl ɪ ti/
lack of ability; lack of power, capacity, or means:
his inability to make decisions.
Origin of inability
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English inabilite < Medieval Latin inhabilitās. See in-3, ability
incapability, incapacity, impotence, incompetence. See disability. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for inability
  • The inability to agree on the principles that underlie our beliefs is at the root of our political discord.
  • For instance, the inability to edit tweets once they'd posted resulted in inadvertent errors of transcription or meaning.
  • But that still doesn't excuse the inability to get rid of incompetent teachers.
  • The only restriction was an inability to self-nominate.
  • But if you had to boil down our fisheries failures to one root cause you could blame the inability to exclude users.
  • Carr writes about his own inability to concentrate amid all the hypertext links, new-mail pings and blinking banner ads.
  • Often the pieces focused on the pain she felt because of her inability to forget difficult moments.
  • It can range from an occasional leakage of urine, to a complete inability to hold any urine.
  • Wrong answers or an inability to answer the question suggest a change in mental status.
  • Nothing, that is, beyond a fatal inability to imagine something other than a palace on a hill.
British Dictionary definitions for inability


lack of ability or means; incapacity
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
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Word Origin and History for inability

mid-15c., inhabilite, "disqualification for office," from in- (1) + ability. Earlier was unability "incapability; incompetence" (late 14c.). General sense by c.1500.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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