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’
    • ‘There are some good reasons for the adoption of this principle: different states often have different and incompatible religious beliefs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is outrageous that the 43 police forces of England and Wales all have different and incompatible intelligence systems.’
    • ‘In terms of the dissemination of news, the interests of the media and the president are very different and often incompatible.’
    • ‘He explains how believers in the paranormal and scientific skeptics arrive at their conclusions via very different and incompatible ways of thinking.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘As Freud's view of the unconscious suggests, distinct but interrelated spheres of reality or experience obey different, even incompatible, structures.’
    • ‘But if the properties at different times are incompatible, then a contradiction follows.’
    • ‘And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names - liberty and tyranny.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To be reliable, a cognitive mechanism must enable a person to discriminate or differentiate between incompatible states of affairs.’
    • ‘In other words, people may be playing on different - and sometimes incompatible - fields.’
    • ‘Taking these terms in their ordinary senses, it would seem that in the two works Hegel takes different and incompatible views.’
    • ‘It is man's nature to suffer from incompatible desires simultaneously - for example, wanting both security and excitement.’
    • ‘He acknowledges that different value systems are incompatible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yet the term is used in a variety of different and occasionally incompatible ways.’
    • ‘Postmodernism has emerged as many-headed, multi-armed, waving in different incompatible directions, at once old and new.’
    • ‘Therefore, theistic evolution which assumes divine direction to achieve divinely ordained goals is an entirely different and incompatible theory.’
    irreconcilable, conflicting, opposed, opposite, contradictory, antagonistic, antipathetic
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    1. 1.1 (of two people) unable to live together harmoniously.
      • ‘It involved putting incompatible prisoners together in a cell, then betting on when a fight would break out.’
      • ‘Their relationship was short lived, however, as they were clearly incompatible.’
      • ‘Instead it has made him think that perhaps we are incompatible and need not be together.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘What lines like that really lead to is a climate of fear incompatible with a free society.’
      • ‘It cannot co-exist with fairness and justice. It is incompatible with democratic civilization.’
      • ‘But even Stalinist modernisation was not incompatible with older architectural modes.’
      • ‘I am maintaining Baudelaire's view that dandyism is incompatible with being a woman’
      • ‘Autists don't lie, because deception is incompatible with mind-blindness.’
      • ‘Moreover the idea of systematic change is incompatible with the ideology of sports.’
      • ‘This consistent approach would by no means be incompatible with the current system.’
      • ‘That something she said one moment was incompatible with her next pronouncement hardly ever troubled her.’
      • ‘Her long and highly-coloured fingernails were plainly incompatible with the contents of nappies.’
      • ‘It was enough to tell himself that his pursuit of literary greatness was incompatible with the obligations of marriage.’
      • ‘Not only would it look out of place, says the conservation panel, but it would be incompatible with grazing livestock.’
      • ‘Those two aims are, in truth, now incompatible with the kind of security which is becoming necessary in the modern world.’
      • ‘The mathematician, a Christian, stressed that his discovery was not incompatible with religious faith.’
      • ‘My drying my underwear in his microwave for six days is incompatible with that goal.’
      • ‘Muzzling of free speech and gagging of facts is incompatible with democracy.’
      • ‘The pursuit of knowledge is not necessarily incompatible with politics.’
      • ‘You will regard it as inimical to the British way, as incompatible with liberty, as an affront to your maturity and autonomy.’
      • ‘Communism is entirely different and incompatible with the way of life of an overwhelming majority of Britons.’
      • ‘Literature by living Cuban writers was judged incompatible with the revolution.’
      • ‘Until he came to his senses and realized that leftist ideals were not incompatible with pragmatism and general prosperity.’
      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.’
      • ‘In addition, there are still compatibility issues among Fibre Channel vendors requiring users to separate incompatible hardware into separate switch zones.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Furthermore, changing formats, and incompatible hardware and software certainly has created situations where data has become difficult to retrieve.’


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