Definition of incapable in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪnˈkeɪpəb(ə)l/


1 (incapable of) Unable to do or achieve (something): Wilson blushed and was incapable of speech
More example sentences
  • I was absolutely demolished, emotionally wrung dry, incapable of coherent speech for a half-hour or so afterwards.
  • Now 78, Eduardo is wheelchair bound, alert but incapable of speech.
  • The person exempted from serious evaluation, after all, is someone considered incapable of significant achievement.
unable to, not capable of, lacking the ability to, not equipped to, lacking the experience to
1.1Not allowing the possibility of (a particular action): with the battery removed the car was incapable of being driven
More example sentences
  • Attempts by the United Nations to broker a deal have foundered, allowing the problem to fester and become a sore incapable of being healed.
  • A possible explanation is that the human eye and brain are incapable of processing all the necessary visual information to apply the rule
  • And Burge's proposal seems incapable of explaining how they are possible.
not open to, not admitting of, not susceptible to, resistant to, impervious to
1.2(Of a person) too caring or moral to do (something): a man incapable of any kind of prejudice
More example sentences
  • But once opportunity offered she was incapable of refusing…
  • Holst said of him that he ‘never joined in the ordinary hatred of Germany; he was utterly incapable of hatred under any provocation whatsoever’.
  • What he did say was that he wanted to be able to have the right to take his own life. He was incapable of doing anything for himself, he felt that he was a burden on his family, he was unhappy and he felt that now was the time to go.
2Unable to behave rationally or manage one’s affairs: the pilot may become incapable from the lack of oxygen
More example sentences
  • Lawyers prepare the necessary Enduring Powers of Attorney documents which allow you to appoint someone you trust to manage your affairs if you become incapable.
  • Furthermore, those charged with supervising the company on our behalf and protecting our savings were either incapable or unable to force the insurer to live in the real world.
  • He was arrested for being drunk and incapable and was taken to Toller Lane police station in Bradford, where he was locked up and placed under half-hourly observation.
incapacitated, helpless, powerless, impotent



Pronunciation: /ɪnkeɪpəˈbɪlɪti/
Example sentences
  • In so far as incapability through incompetence is concerned, the general rule is that the employee's incapacity as it existed at the time of dismissal must be of such a nature and quality as to justify dismissal.
  • I'm glad my incapability gave everyone a laugh.
  • His administration failed to anticipate the big floods earlier this year, and its handling of this natural disaster proved its incapability.


Example sentences
  • Apparently, it wouldn't do to have him - previously best known for being found incapably drunk in Leicester Square two years ago, and now a Bristol University student - staying in mere digs.
  • The actor playing Caliban gets incapably drunk, and Alice, who knows the play by heart, agrees to take his place.
  • A description of the time quotes: ‘the inhabitants paraded the place incapably drunk‘.


Late 16th century: from French, or from late Latin incapabilis, from in- 'not' + capabilis (see capable).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: in|cap¦able

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