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[in-ept, ih-nept] /ɪnˈɛpt, ɪˈnɛpt/
without skill or aptitude for a particular task or assignment; maladroit:
He is inept at mechanical tasks. She is inept at dealing with people.
generally awkward or clumsy; haplessly incompetent.
inappropriate; unsuitable; out of place.
absurd or foolish:
an inept remark.
Origin of inept
1595-1605; < Latin ineptus, equivalent to in- in-3 + -eptus, combining form of aptus apt
Related forms
ineptly, adverb
ineptness, noun
Can be confused
inapt, inept, unapt.
1. unskillful, bungling. 4. stupid, pointless, inane.
1. suited. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for inept
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He is an inept critic who thrives by attaching his name to great reputations.

    The Critical Game John Albert Macy
  • He is untrained, inept, but he will fill the place and draw the pay.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • To have set them in the sustained arioso style of Tristan und Isolde would have been as impossible as it would have been inept.

  • And I've got another, too—'inept'—and that's what you are now, Patricia Kendall.

    Miss Pat at School Pemberton Ginther
  • Lewis, his soul a volcano, struggled for the most calm and inept words.

    The Half-Hearted John Buchan
British Dictionary definitions for inept


awkward, clumsy, or incompetent
not suitable, appropriate, or fitting; out of place
Derived Forms
ineptitude, noun
ineptly, adverb
ineptness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin ineptus, from in-1 + aptus fitting, suitable
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 inept

c.1600, from Old French inepte (14c.) or directly from Latin ineptus "unsuitable, improper, absurd, awkward, silly, tactless," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + aptus "apt" (see apt). Related: Ineptly; ineptness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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