Definition of incapacity in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɪnkəˈpasɪti/

noun (plural incapacities)

[mass noun]
1Physical or mental inability to do something or to manage one’s affairs: they can be sacked only for incapacity or misbehaviour
More example sentences
  • But Floyd is concerned that his parents' physical and mental incapacities may have made them susceptible to voting fraud.
  • It would appear that if there was an objective reason to suspect, it will not avail the accused that persons suffering from his mental or physical incapacities would not have been aware of it.
  • To be sure, our ancestors would have enhanced themselves and their progeny in ways that seemed universally desirable - eliminating fatal maladies, disfigurement, mental incapacities, and so forth.
2Legal disqualification: they are not subject to any legal incapacity
More example sentences
  • In an attempt to solve the present case, and similar cases of successive causes of incapacity according to some legal principle, a number of arguments have been invoked.
  • A party entered into the Arbitration Agreement while under a legal incapacity.
  • She submits, however, that the Board did not err in law, because it made a specific finding of incapacity based on the statutory test.
disqualification, lack of entitlement, lack of legal right


Early 17th century: from French incapacité or late Latin incapacitas, from in- (expressing negation) + capacitas (see capacity).

  • capable from mid 16th century:

    The first recorded sense of this was ‘able to take in’, physically or mentally. It comes from Latin capere ‘take or hold’ which is found in many other English words including: accept (Late Middle English) from ad- ‘to’ and capere; anticipation (Late Middle English) ‘acting or taking in advance’; capacity (Late Middle English) ‘ability to hold’; caption (Late Middle English) originally an act of capture; captive (Late Middle English); catch (Middle English); chase (Middle English); conceive (Middle English) literally ‘take together’; except (Late Middle English) ‘take out of’; incapacity (early 17th century) inability to hold; intercept (Late Middle English) to take between; perceive (Middle English) to hold entirely; prince; receive (Middle English) ‘take back’; susceptible (early 17th century) literally ‘that can be taken from below’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: in|cap¦acity

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.