adjective in·ept \i-ˈnept\

: lacking skill or ability

: showing a lack of skill or ability : not done well

Full Definition of INEPT

:  lacking in fitness or aptitude :  unfit <inept at sports>
:  lacking sense or reason :  foolish
:  not suitable to the time, place, or occasion :  inappropriate often to an absurd degree <an inept metaphor>
:  generally incompetent :  bungling <inept leadership>
in·ept·ly \-ˈnep(t)-lē\ adverb
in·ept·ness \-nəs\ noun

Examples of INEPT

  1. Not only does the post have a narrow mandate, covering such sexy subjects as nuclear waste and solar energy, but the secretary presides over the most inept bureaucrats in the land. —Franklin Foer, New Republic, 3 July 2000

Origin of INEPT

Middle French inepte, from Latin ineptus, from in- + aptus apt
First Known Use: 1542

Synonym Discussion of INEPT

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact <periods of awkward silence>. clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill <a clumsy mechanic>. maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations <a maladroit politician>. inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy <a hopelessly inept defense attorney>. gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding <felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties>.
INEPT Defined for Kids


adjective in·ept \i-ˈnept\

Definition of INEPT for Kids

:  not suited to the occasion <an inept remark>
:  lacking in skill or ability <an inept painter>
in·ept·ly adverb
in·ept·ness noun

Word Root of INEPT

The Latin word aptus, meaning fit or suitable, gives us the root apt or ept. Words from the Latin aptus have something to do with being fitting or suitable. Something apt fits just right into a situation. To adapt is to change in order to fit a situation better. Someone who is adept has suitable skills to perform a task well, while someone who is inept does not.


Next Word in the Dictionary: ineptitudePrevious Word in the Dictionary: inenarrableAll Words Near: inept
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears