1. not competent; lacking qualification or ability; incapable: an incompetent candidate.
  2. characterized by or showing incompetence: His incompetent acting ruined the play.
  3. Law.
    1. being unable or legally unqualified to perform specified acts or to be held legally responsible for such acts.
    2. inadmissible, as evidence.


  1. an incompetent person; a mentally deficient person.
  2. Law. a person lacking power to act with legal effectiveness.


  1. not possessing the necessary ability, skill, etc to do or carry out a task; incapable
  2. marked by lack of ability, skill, etc
  3. law not legally qualifiedan incompetent witness
  4. (of rock strata, folds, etc) yielding readily to pressure so as to undergo structural deformation


  1. an incompetent person

1610s, “insufficient,” from French incompétent, from Late Latin incompetentem (nominative incompetens) “insufficient,” from in- “not” (see in- (1)) + Latin competentem (see competent). Sense of “lacking qualification or ability” first recorded 1630s. The noun meaning “incompetent person” is from 1866. Related: Incompetently.


  1. Inadequate for or unsuited to a particular purpose or application.
  2. Incapable of proper functioning.
  3. Not qualified in legal terms.

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