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[in-key-puh-buh l] /ɪnˈkeɪ pə bəl/
not capable.
not having the necessary ability, qualification, or strength to perform some specified act or function:
As an administrator, he is simply incapable.
without ordinary capability; incompetent.
a thoroughly incompetent person, especially one of defective mentality.
incapable of,
  1. not having the ability, qualification, or strength for (a specified act or function).
  2. not open to; not susceptible to or admitting:
    These materials are incapable of exact measurement.
  3. legally unqualified for.
Origin of incapable
1585-95; < Late Latin incapābilis. See in-3, capable
Related forms
incapability, incapableness, noun
incapably, adverb
1. Incapable, incompetent, inefficient, unable are applied to a person or thing that is lacking in ability, preparation, or power for whatever is to be done. Incapable usually means inherently lacking in ability or power: incapable of appreciating music; a bridge incapable of carrying heavy loads. Incompetent, generally used only of persons, means unfit or unqualified for a particular task: incompetent as an administrator. Inefficient means wasteful in the use of effort or power: an inefficient manager; inefficient methods. Unable usually refers to a temporary condition of inability to do some specific thing: unable to relax, to go to a concert. 2. impotent, unqualified.
1. able. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for incapability
Historical Examples
  • Mr. King testily asked Ann Canham, when she was timidly confessing her incapability in the culinary art.

    Trevlyn Hold Mrs. Henry Wood
  • The income devolved on me in consequence of Winslowe's incapability.

    The Crooked House Brandon Fleming
  • Instead of bewailing my incapability, which only makes me still less capable, I must make my requests known to Him.

    Ortus Christi Mother St. Paul
  • Let those who think so reflect on the state of nations under poverty, and their incapability of art.

    William Blake Irene Langridge
  • This, as I understand it, simply means an incapability of acting the hypocrite.

    Born Again Alfred Lawson
  • I have before remarked on his incapability of controlling his expenses and living within a fixed income.

    Wagner as I Knew Him Ferdinand Christian Wilhelm Praeger
  • His Pierrot of the Minute was himself, and his Cynara was the ever vanishing vision of his own insecurity and incapability.

    Adventures in the Arts Marsden Hartley
  • The consciousness of Lamh Laudher's public disgrace, and of his incapability to repel it, sank deep into his heart.

    The Dead Boxer William Carleton
  • Irreconcil′ableness, Irreconcilabil′ity, incapability of being reconciled.

  • Louis calmly explained the incapability of Ceuta to defend itself, should the sally be repulsed by the enemy.

British Dictionary definitions for incapability


when postpositive, often foll by of. not capable (of); lacking the ability (to)
powerless or helpless, as through injury or intoxication
(postpositive) foll by of. not susceptible (to); not admitting (of): a problem incapable of solution
Derived Forms
incapability, incapableness, noun
incapably, 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
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Word Origin and History for incapability



1590s, from Middle French incapable and directly from Medieval Latin incapabilis, from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + capabilis (see capable). Related: Incapably; incapability.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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