Definition of incompatible in US English:



  • 1(of two things) so opposed in character as to be incapable of existing together.

    ‘she declined the offer because it was incompatible with her values’
    • ‘Taking these terms in their ordinary senses, it would seem that in the two works Hegel takes different and incompatible views.’
    • ‘It is outrageous that the 43 police forces of England and Wales all have different and incompatible intelligence systems.’
    • ‘He explains how believers in the paranormal and scientific skeptics arrive at their conclusions via very different and incompatible ways of thinking.’
    • ‘Yet the term is used in a variety of different and occasionally incompatible ways.’
    • ‘To be reliable, a cognitive mechanism must enable a person to discriminate or differentiate between incompatible states of affairs.’
    • ‘There are some good reasons for the adoption of this principle: different states often have different and incompatible religious beliefs.’
    • ‘As Freud's view of the unconscious suggests, distinct but interrelated spheres of reality or experience obey different, even incompatible, structures.’
    • ‘And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names - liberty and tyranny.’
    • ‘When estimating the probability of events, why do you use two different and incompatible methods, depending on whether the event was human-caused or not?’
    • ‘Even the most reasoned and eloquent theological discourse will not reconcile viewpoints that are rooted in incompatible assumptions about the nature and purpose of our faith and community.’
    • ‘In terms of the dissemination of news, the interests of the media and the president are very different and often incompatible.’
    • ‘He acknowledges that different value systems are incompatible.’
    • ‘These and other physical realities mean that almost every aspect of life, from taking a simple breath or eating to finding a mate, requires different, often incompatible, adaptations in the two media.’
    • ‘Therefore, theistic evolution which assumes divine direction to achieve divinely ordained goals is an entirely different and incompatible theory.’
    • ‘But if the properties at different times are incompatible, then a contradiction follows.’
    • ‘It is man's nature to suffer from incompatible desires simultaneously - for example, wanting both security and excitement.’
    • ‘Postmodernism has emerged as many-headed, multi-armed, waving in different incompatible directions, at once old and new.’
    • ‘This is true by definition, for different individuals will always want and desire different and incompatible things and their unfettered pursuit of their own objectives will inevitably bring them into conflict.’
    • ‘In other words, people may be playing on different - and sometimes incompatible - fields.’
    • ‘It gradually became clear that we had radically different and incompatible views concerning the tasks of Marxists today and the kind of parties we should be building.’
    irreconcilable, conflicting, opposed, opposite, contradictory, antagonistic, antipathetic
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    1. 1.1 (of two people) unable to live together harmoniously.
      • ‘Generally speaking, the most violent and dysfunctional Aboriginal communities are the ones where several incompatible clan groups were arbitrarily shoved together by missionaries and governments.’
      • ‘It involved putting incompatible prisoners together in a cell, then betting on when a fight would break out.’
      • ‘Instead it has made him think that perhaps we are incompatible and need not be together.’
      • ‘Their relationship was short lived, however, as they were clearly incompatible.’
      • ‘To even try and understand how two such incompatible people stayed together for so long is something the film tries to explain, and in fact it does very well.’
      unsuited, mismatched, ill-matched, poles apart, worlds apart, like day and night
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    2. 1.2incompatible withpredicative (of one thing or person) not consistent or able to coexist with (another)
      ‘long hours are simply incompatible with family life’
      • ‘Those two aims are, in truth, now incompatible with the kind of security which is becoming necessary in the modern world.’
      • ‘Moreover the idea of systematic change is incompatible with the ideology of sports.’
      • ‘The mathematician, a Christian, stressed that his discovery was not incompatible with religious faith.’
      • ‘Until he came to his senses and realized that leftist ideals were not incompatible with pragmatism and general prosperity.’
      • ‘This consistent approach would by no means be incompatible with the current system.’
      • ‘It cannot co-exist with fairness and justice. It is incompatible with democratic civilization.’
      • ‘Her long and highly-coloured fingernails were plainly incompatible with the contents of nappies.’
      • ‘Autists don't lie, because deception is incompatible with mind-blindness.’
      • ‘Communism is entirely different and incompatible with the way of life of an overwhelming majority of Britons.’
      • ‘The pursuit of knowledge is not necessarily incompatible with politics.’
      • ‘It was enough to tell himself that his pursuit of literary greatness was incompatible with the obligations of marriage.’
      • ‘You will regard it as inimical to the British way, as incompatible with liberty, as an affront to your maturity and autonomy.’
      • ‘My drying my underwear in his microwave for six days is incompatible with that goal.’
      • ‘That something she said one moment was incompatible with her next pronouncement hardly ever troubled her.’
      • ‘Literature by living Cuban writers was judged incompatible with the revolution.’
      • ‘I am maintaining Baudelaire's view that dandyism is incompatible with being a woman’
      • ‘But even Stalinist modernisation was not incompatible with older architectural modes.’
      • ‘Not only would it look out of place, says the conservation panel, but it would be incompatible with grazing livestock.’
      • ‘What lines like that really lead to is a climate of fear incompatible with a free society.’
      • ‘Muzzling of free speech and gagging of facts is incompatible with democracy.’
      inconsistent with, at odds with, out of keeping with, different to, differing from, divergent from, at variance with, incongruous with, inconsonant with, contrary to, in conflict with, in opposition to, diametrically opposed to, counter to, not in accord with, irreconcilable with, not able to be reconciled with, alien to
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    3. 1.3 (of equipment, machinery, computer programs, etc.) not capable of being used in combination.
      ‘all four prototype camcorders used special tapes and were incompatible with one another’
      • ‘Common avoidable problems include overcrowded or illegible slides, irrelevant or badly prepared handouts, and incompatible multimedia equipment.’
      • ‘Furthermore, changing formats, and incompatible hardware and software certainly has created situations where data has become difficult to retrieve.’
      • ‘More than three years of desert battlefield experience has proven that too much Army Reserve equipment is still incompatible and not interoperable with AC equipment.’
      • ‘Remember also that many disk and other utility programs are incompatible, this is not necessarily a problem as they are largely redundant.’
      • ‘In addition, there are still compatibility issues among Fibre Channel vendors requiring users to separate incompatible hardware into separate switch zones.’


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin incompatibilis, from in- ‘not’ + compatibilis (see compatible).