In*com"pe*tent (?), a. [L. incompetens: cf. F. incomp'etent. See In- not, and Competent.]


Not competent; wanting in adequate strength, power, capacity, means, qualifications, or the like; incapable; unable; inadequate; unfit.

Incompetent to perform the duties of the place. Macaulay.

2. Law

Wanting the legal or constitutional qualifications; inadmissible; as, a person professedly wanting in religious belief is an incompetent witness in a court of law or equity; incompetent evidence.

Richard III. had a resolution, out of hatred to his brethren, to disable their issues, upon false and incompetent pretexts, the one of attainder, the other of illegitimation. Bacon.


Not lying within one's competency, capacity, or authorized power; not permissible.

Syn. -- Incapable; unable; inadequate; insufficient; inefficient; disqualified; unfit; improper. -- Incompetent, Incapable. Incompetent is a relative term, denoting a want of the requisite qualifications for performing a given act, service, etc.; incapable is absolute in its meaning, denoting want of power, either natural or moral. We speak of a man as incompetent to a certain task, of an incompetent judge, etc. We say of an idiot that he is incapable of learning to read; and of a man distinguished for his honor, that he is incapable of a mean action.


© Webster 1913.