Definition of unable in US English:



  • with infinitive Lacking the skill, means, or opportunity to do something.

    ‘she was unable to conceal her surprise’
    • ‘They were unable to open the door for visitors by pressing the buzzers in their rooms.’
    • ‘She was slurring her words and unable to use to her tongue properly to help her make the sounds.’
    • ‘They could also house children who feel unable to live with a family which is not their own.’
    • ‘What I have yet to see is a poor dentist living in the rough part of town unable to feed his or her family!’
    • ‘He was unable to drive his stepson to school and had to cancel a hospital appointment.’
    • ‘The job is ideal for those people who would like a bit of extra cash but are unable to fit in many hours of work.’
    • ‘One problem that could occur is if property owners are unable to let out the house.’
    • ‘Bird was unable to engage his gears, but managed to get going and finished at the back.’
    • ‘We have a government that is pathologically unable to say what it is actually about.’
    • ‘A charity shop is to close after a lack of business and rising costs have left it unable to go on.’
    • ‘It concerns a boy desperate to obtain his mother's love, a love she is unable to give.’
    • ‘He would have liked more tomato and was unable to finish his meal saying it became too oily.’
    • ‘He had claimed it was a new flavouring for saffron rice but had been unable to look me in the eye when he said it.’
    • ‘He was attacked by the media and speculation grew that he was unable to cope with crises.’
    • ‘If York regulars follow their usual route to the course they will be unable to reach it.’
    • ‘Surgeons sewed most of the piece back on but were unable to replace a small section.’
    • ‘I remember now at work being unable to do many of my duties when other people were around.’
    • ‘Windermere yet again were unable to put out their best side due to illness and injury.’
    • ‘Mr Bubb said that the sisters had been unable to go to the police when they told their mother.’
    • ‘I am unable to reprint my story here, but if you read some of the links you'll get the gist of it.’
    not able, powerless, impotent, not equal to, not up to, at a loss, inadequate, ineffectual, incompetent, unfit, unfitted, unqualified
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