English edit

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ʌnˈeɪbəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪbəl

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle English unable, unabel, unhable, unhabil, equivalent to un- +‎ able.

Adjective edit

unable (comparative unabler or more unable, superlative unablest or most unable)

  1. Not able; lacking a certain ability.
    Are you unable to mind your own business or something?
    • 2011 December 21, Tom Rostance, “Fulham 0-5 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport:
      Fulham switched off as Giggs took a quick corner to Valencia. He played it back to Giggs, whose cross was headed in by Nani with the lurking Rooney unable to add a touch.
    • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, “Our banks are out of control”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21:
      Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […].  Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. […]  But the scandals kept coming, […]. A broad section of the political class now recognises the need for change but remains unable to see the necessity of a fundamental overhaul.
    • 2022 January 12, “Network News: Trading of Go-Ahead Group shares halted”, in RAIL, number 948, page 7:
      The train operating company owning group warned in early December that it was unable to publish its results for the year to July 3 2021, following an investigation into the running of Southeastern, which was stripped of its franchise in October [...].
Antonyms edit
Derived terms edit
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Interjection edit


  1. (aviation) Indicating that a requested course of action is not possible to carry out.
    "November three seven kilo, climb and maintain twelve thousand." "Unable, we have pressurization problems. Maintaining nine thousand."

Etymology 2 edit

From Middle English unablen, equivalent to un- +‎ able.

Verb edit

unable (third-person singular simple present unables, present participle unabling, simple past and past participle unabled)

  1. (transitive, nonstandard) To render unable; to disable.

Anagrams edit