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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The embarrassment was because of her inability to extend to us the hospitality she desired.

    Romantic Spain John Augustus O'Shea
  • The inability of the men only, will put a period to our daily marches.

  • His inability to block a short left-hook followed by a right to the point of the jaw had ameliorated quite a number of existences.

    The Adventures of Sally P. G. Wodehouse
  • Her assertion was disregarded as to the inability to change.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The second trait which is fully explained only by Hamlet's melancholy is his own inability to understand why he delays.

    Shakespearean Tragedy A. C. Bradley
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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