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[in-i-fish-uh nt] /ˌɪn ɪˈfɪʃ ənt/
not efficient; unable to effect or achieve the desired result with reasonable economy of means.
lacking in ability, incompetent.
Origin of inefficient
1740-50; in-3 + efficient
Related forms
inefficiently, adverb
2. See incapable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for inefficient
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cuckoo seems such an unpractical and inefficient bird that it is interesting to see it doing things.

    Under the Maples John Burroughs
  • As a result there was inefficient farming and a low standard of living.

    The Farmer and His Community Dwight Sanderson
  • The inefficient colored friend who sits in the Speaker's chair cannot suppress this extraordinary element of the debate.

    The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming
  • If a large organization does not hand over authority it is inefficient.

    The Ghost in the White House Gerald Stanley Lee
  • The consequences of a bad or inefficient government are too obvious to be dwelt upon.

    The Greater Republic Charles Morris
British Dictionary definitions for inefficient


unable to perform a task or function to the best advantage; wasteful or incompetent
unable to produce the desired result
Derived Forms
inefficiency, noun
inefficiently, 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 inefficient

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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