Definition of incompetent in US English:

incompetent

adjective

  • 1Not having or showing the necessary skills to do something successfully.

    ‘a forgetful and utterly incompetent assistant’
    • ‘With the ball in hand they were ambitious and expansive. And clumsy, incompetent and inadequate.’
    • ‘Not necessarily incompetent, they are opportunists who seize the chance to make lots of money for doing relatively little work.’
    • ‘The problem is that we have had a succession of absolutely incompetent Ministers of Correction.’
    • ‘On the grounds of weeding out incompetent and unqualified staff, every teacher in the city was dismissed by the municipal authorities and ordered to reapply for their positions.’
    • ‘They were severely lambasted for being so inept and so incompetent.’
    • ‘The system was supposed to have been finished a week ago… yet, as always, her incompetent assistants had let her down.’
    • ‘Quarrels over succession, corrupt and incompetent administration, and revolts accelerated disintegration.’
    • ‘After that date firms would have to prove beyond doubt that older workers were incompetent or incapable of doing their jobs if they wanted to pension them off.’
    • ‘I may have said there are people here who are incompetent and unprofessional.’
    • ‘The point is not to say that planners are necessary corrupt or incompetent; but simply that they cannot fail to see things from the point of view of how they, personally, may be affected by their own decisions.’
    • ‘These apologies can be interpreted as excuses for people being incompetent, unqualified, dumb, disorganised, and unreliable.’
    • ‘She would even settle for her incompetent assistants at this point.’
    • ‘In a large number of life's most basic practical skills, I am quite staggeringly, hopelessly incompetent.’
    • ‘With close on 360000 inexperienced and incompetent drivers in circulation, is it any wonder that the accident rate is so alarming?’
    • ‘I am simply too incompetent, too inexperienced and too unfit to be let anywhere near anything you can fall off.’
    • ‘Bullies latch on to any kind of weakness - but that doesn't mean the person being bullied is incompetent or incapable.’
    • ‘This crew appears to be so power-hungry, and so incompetent in carrying out their radical programs, that only disaster will result if they gain a second term.’
    • ‘But yesterday Mr Roberts admitted unprofessional and incompetent conduct.’
    • ‘Consequently he was incompetent, cognitively incapable of envisioning change and probably dangerous.’
    • ‘But to go back to work; suddenly, I AM that useless incompetent know-nothing manager whose presence in a position of authority bewilders everyone.’
    inept, unskilful, unskilled, inexpert, amateurish, unprofessional, lacking ability, bungling, blundering, clumsy, unproficient, inadequate, substandard, inferior, ineffective, deficient, inefficient, ineffectual, no good, not good enough, wanting, lacking, leaving much to be desired
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    1. 1.1Law Not qualified to act in a particular capacity.
      ‘the patient is deemed legally incompetent’
      • ‘The head of state must be a Muslim, and non-Muslims are incompetent to testify against Muslims.’
      • ‘I am horrified that thousands of pounds of taxpayer's money is being spent employing solicitors and barristers who are incompetent.’
      • ‘In a letter the procurator fiscal raised no objection to this, but in court the Crown argued, and the sheriff accepted, that the motion was incompetent.’
      • ‘If that proves to be the case, input from psychologists will become even more important in determining how the law treats defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial.’
      • ‘There was the first, the default that you are complaining of; then there was the section of the Evidence Act; and then there was incompetent advocacy.’
    2. 1.2Medicine (especially of a valve or sphincter) not able to perform its function.
      • ‘When a valve is incompetent, the heart has to work harder to pump the required amount of blood around the body.’
      • ‘Valves maybe incompetent due to lower leg trauma, deep vein thrombosis, or congenital anomalies.’
      • ‘Occurs when incompetent valves cause blood to pool in the legs.’
      • ‘Barium contrast studies and colonoscopy may show ulcers, strictures, a deformed cecum, incompetent ileocecal valve, or fistulas.’
      • ‘In the 1940s, incompetent perforator veins were recognized as significant contributors to venous ulcers.’

noun

  • An incompetent person.

    • ‘History is littered with despots and psychopaths, murderous dullards, evil geniuses, deadly incompetents, calamitous brutes of all descriptions.’
    • ‘But exemplary and dedicated teachers surrounded by incompetents will soon grow demoralized, and effective teachers will shun under-performing schools.’
    • ‘With his cultured right foot, he dominates the midfield, his integrity and swift moral purpose shading everyone else into the second-rate incompetents they probably know deep down that they are.’
    • ‘At best they have been portrayed as bungling incompetents.’
    • ‘After reading an article in a daily newspaper this week I am left to conclude that our elected leaders are a bunch of fools, incompetents and idiots (take your pick as to who falls into which category).’
    bungler, blunderer, incompetent, oaf, dunce, dolt, dunderhead, fool, idiot, booby, stupid person, moron, cretin, imbecile
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Origin

Late 16th century (in the sense ‘not legally competent’): from French, or from late Latin incompetent-, from in- ‘not’ + Latin competent- ‘being fit or proper’ (see competent).

Pronunciation

incompetent

/ɪnˈkɑmpədənt//inˈkämpədənt/