[not before noun] unable to do something (rather formal) not having the skill, strength, time, knowledge, etc. to do something He lay there, unable to move. I tried to contact him but was unable to. She was unable to hide her excitement. Let us know if you’re unable to come. They have been unable or unwilling to resolve the conflict. opposite ableWord Familyable adjective (≠unable)ably adverbability noun (≠inability)disabled adjectivedisability nounExtra examples He remained silent, unwilling or unable to say what was in his mind. He seemed constitutionally unable not to give his opinion on anything and everything. He seemed constitutionally unable to keep quiet. He was considered unable to cope with the pressure of the job. He went on, apparently unable to stop. She found herself unable to meet his gaze. The accident left him unable to walk. The road was deemed unable to cope with increased traffic. The staff were simply unable to cope. They are somehow unable to make the choices necessary.