Definition of inarticulate in English:



  • 1Unable to speak distinctly or express oneself clearly.

    ‘he was inarticulate with abashment and regret’
    • ‘It is difficult to say when the idea of Australians as an inarticulate and laconic people took hold, but by the twentieth century this had become a staple of Australian cultural criticism.’
    • ‘He comes across as a shallow, inarticulate man, simplistic in speech and inauthentic in manner.’
    • ‘These characters may be inarticulate, their words awkward attempts to express existential disquiet.’
    • ‘Reading, which not only requires but creates solitude, takes us to the edge of inarticulate solitary experience in the company of other writers and other readers.’
    • ‘He should have been frightened, tired, nervous, uncertain, inarticulate.’
    • ‘He becomes completely inarticulate and unable to close the deal, as it were, because he loves her too much!’
    • ‘His hidden rolls of writings are found, and unexpectedly writing again becomes his salvation when the prison superintendent, an inarticulate oaf, makes him write love poems for his girlfriend.’
    • ‘This is also not to say that the artists were in any way unintelligent or even inarticulate (although some were); many were very interesting to listen to.’
    • ‘Although I don't consider myself unintelligent or inarticulate, I don't tend to have the courage of my convictions when called upon to air my opinions.’
    • ‘Well, you know, there's different kinds of intelligence that I - it's very clear that a lot of people that have really strong instincts as actors are very often inarticulate.’
    • ‘Family meals can be a good forum for voicing opinions, for trying out ideas and even for gauging how an inarticulate teenager is feeling, allowing a parent to pick up on a small but strongly felt injustice before it causes a row.’
    • ‘Speechless and inarticulate, they are bound together forever in their sense of loss and love for a young woman, whom they never really knew nor understood.’
    • ‘It's the one where he played a dumb sullen inarticulate Brooklyn paint-store clerk.’
    • ‘When the play was filmed in 1951, his brutish, inarticulate Kowalski unleashed a cry of anguish that would echo down the decades.’
    • ‘I'm not a public speaker to begin with, and so what if I just embarrass myself, or come across as inarticulate and incoherent?’
    • ‘If they are not tongue-tied, they are either inarticulate or brash.’
    • ‘He was verbally inarticulate and could not enunciate a clear concept or formulate ideas.’
    • ‘For the inarticulate Trevor, ‘I think you're really cool,’ is a major statement of devotion, and ‘buck up, little camper’ is the best consolation he can offer.’
    • ‘Today, only the host is allowed to be that and he surrounds himself with inarticulate stagehands, delicatessen owners and others who are guaranteed to never come up with an intentional funny remark.’
    • ‘Their strong leader was inarticulate, arrogant, confused and immature.’
    tongue-tied, lost for words, at a loss for words, unable to express oneself, unable to get a word out, poorly spoken
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    1. 1.1 Not clearly expressed or pronounced.
      ‘inarticulate complaints of inadequate remuneration’
      • ‘I would think long and hard before assuming that inarticulate speech and a gift for malapropism are indicators of stupidity.’
      • ‘He's a little dumbfounded at reviews of the film that criticize the repetitiveness of some dialogue or inarticulate speech, two of the aspects that make the film feel true.’
      • ‘Thoughts and emotions are not communicated or portrayed so much as suggested, truncated and dispatched with inarticulate pseudo-sophistication.’
      • ‘Young males are particularly criticized for greeting others quickly in an incomprehensible and inarticulate manner.’
      • ‘Beverly strained to hear his inarticulate words.’
      • ‘The point, however inchoate, inarticulate, and immature, was to register dissent with the status quo and to assert some measure of individuality in a stultifying, conformist atmosphere.’
      • ‘The majority of the crew shouted inarticulate phrases and their calm, concerned visages turned to shock.’
      • ‘He yelled something inarticulate containing the word ‘demon’.’
      • ‘Paradoxically, his inarticulate speech and inchoate thinking vividly express his frustration and anger: he has no skills with which to cope effectively with the inevitable set-backs of his life.’
      • ‘For more background on that, you should read the three posts I wrote back then, the last of which has enough pictures to give a sense of the whole concept without the effort of ploughing through my clumsy inarticulate prose.’
      • ‘My opening post was pretty ill-formed and inarticulate, but I'm glad that people have an idea about what I'm getting at.’
      • ‘If the standard less-than-a-page short poem characteristically is uninterested, if not inarticulate, on the subject of time, it is no less implicated.’
      unintelligible, incomprehensible, incoherent, unclear, indistinct, mumbled, muttered, muffled
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    2. 1.2 Not expressed; unspoken.
      ‘mention of her mother filled her with inarticulate irritation’
      • ‘At that moment he felt toward Mary and Jan a dumb, cold, and inarticulate hate.’
      • ‘Beneath the linguistic sparklers and Catherine wheels, there is a subtle and moving examination of the inarticulate moment: gesture and touch, weeping and laughter.’
      • ‘Like I said, at 16 in my 14th century cloisters I was a cynic and a puritan, convinced in some inarticulate depth that the world had gone wrong, in ways more fundamental than I could even name.’
      • ‘Just as Ashes cricket is a substitute for the war of independence that Australia has never actually fought, so too is football a venting of the latent aggression, frustration and inarticulate rage within the Australian psyche.’
      • ‘Her comment struck me as the most penetrating I have heard in relation to this much-discussed film, which has incited a level of critical hostility, in some cases bordering on inarticulate rage, rarely seen in the mass media these days.’
      • ‘Because so many of the encounters are inarticulate, ideas aren't developed as fluently as in the two earlier films.’
      • ‘And the friendship the two men have is sort of touching in an inarticulate way; the performances, while not sterling, are natural enough to make you believe that a guy can come out to his straight male roommate and not have it be a huge deal.’
      • ‘Recorded in Seattle partly during last year's anti-capitalist riots, it opens with three songs which seem to encapsulate the inarticulate, ultimately directionless rage of that protest.’
      unspoken, silent, unexpressed, wordless, unvoiced, unsaid, unuttered, unvocalized
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  • 2Without joints or articulations.

    1. 2.1Zoology Denoting a brachiopod in which the valves of the shell have no hinge and are held together by muscles.
      • ‘The Brachiopoda for example, was present, but greatest diversity was shown by inarticulate brachiopods (like the one in the upper middle, from the Upper Cambrian of Iowa).’
      • ‘The Discinids are a small long-lived group of inarticulate brachiopods with chitinophosphatic shells.’
      • ‘Quasimodaspis, along with the inarticulate brachiopods that are the only other fossils so far recovered from this locality, was probably transported from a shallower facies.’
      • ‘The Trimerellacea are a small group of quite large inarticulate brachiopods.’
      • ‘This small group of Linguliform inarticulate brachiopods includes only about 14 known genera.’


Early 17th century: from in- ‘not’ + the adjective articulate; the sense ‘not clearly pronounced’ corresponds to that of late Latin inarticulatus.