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Incompetence   /ɪnkˈɑmpətəns/   Listen
Incompetence

noun
1.
Lack of physical or intellectual ability or qualifications.  Synonym: incompetency.
2.
Inability of a part or organ to function properly.



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"Incompetence" Quotes from Famous Books



... the wider interests of the country; a class of crotchety politicians, upholding the government one day and opposing it the next, compromising every cause and helping none; helpless after they have done the mischief till they set about brewing more; unwilling to face their own incompetence, thwarting authority while professing to serve it. With a compound of arrogance and humility they demand of the people more submission than kings expect, and fret their souls because those above them are not brought ...
— The Collection of Antiquities • Honore de Balzac

... will not eat with the parents of either of them. This is a common custom among low castes of mixed origin where every man is doubtful of his neighbour's parentage. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted, and a woman may be divorced merely on the ground of incompetence in household management or because she does not please her ...
— The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India - Volume IV of IV - Kumhar-Yemkala • R.V. Russell

... Sire," I answered, "that I have been brought to it by the incompetence of Your Majesty's judges and the ill-will of others whom Your Majesty honours with too great a confidence, rather than by this same disobedience ...
— Bardelys the Magnificent • Rafael Sabatini

... Prince; despair of the King; despair of the Queen, not unmixed with rage, to judge from her voice and gestures. Consultation of an astrologer. Flight of the Prince in search of his beloved. Universal bewilderment and incompetence, such as may be witnessed any day in the East when anything happens at all out of the ordinary way. At this point enter the comic relief, in the form of woodcutters. I am inclined to suppose, from the delight of ...
— Appearances - Being Notes of Travel • Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson

... you should eclipse your neighbour, Virgil.' When I talk in this manner, he looks down and blushes. On this behaviour alone I build my hope. He is modest, and has a docility which renders him susceptible of every impression." This is a melancholy confession, on the part of Petrarch, of his own incompetence to make the most of his son's mind, and a confession the more convincing that it ...
— The Sonnets, Triumphs, and Other Poems of Petrarch • Petrarch

... that congregations would be too anxious to prevent their young clergymen from advancing themselves in the ranks of the ministry. Clergymen who could not preach would be such blessings that they would be bribed to adhere to their incompetence. ...
— Barchester Towers • Anthony Trollope

... with a large air of erudition: "The law, however, provides for such cases as this. When the security of the mortgager is in jeopardy through incompetence or other causes he can ...
— The Fighting Shepherdess • Caroline Lockhart

... existence of parties in the Church also proves its incompetence. On that matter, too, I entertain a contrary opinion. Parties have always existed in the Church; and some have appealed to them as arguments in favor of its divine institution, because, in the services and ...
— The World's Best Orations, Vol. 1 (of 10) • Various

... chance of getting out of Germany was to show an unsurpassable incompetence. He showed it. He flourished his incompetence in the faces of all the officials, until some superofficial wrote a letter to his father ...
— The Tree of Heaven • May Sinclair

... of Stirling was renewed; but owing to the gross incompetence of a French engineer, who had come over with Lord Drummond, the batteries were so badly placed that their fire was easily silenced by that of the castle guns. The prince, in spite of the advice of Lord George Murray and the other competent ...
— Bonnie Prince Charlie - A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden • G. A. Henty

... Tengger soaring abruptly on the horizon. The ship becomes our home for a month, and affords a welcome relief from divers struggles on land, involved by a dual language, official red tape, and native incompetence. A brilliant sunset flames across the heavens, and we glide across a golden sea as a fitting prelude to unknown realms of enchantment. The dreamful calm of the two days' passage obliterates the memory of bygone difficulties and perturbations, the interval ...
— Through the Malay Archipelago • Emily Richings

... Indian retorted that the Government's word had been hitherto held as good as its bond, and Indian Extremists found only too ready hearers when they imputed the exchange policy of Whitehall not so much to mere incompetence as to unholy influences behind Whitehall which robbed India in order to fill ...
— India, Old and New • Sir Valentine Chirol

... him carefully as he did so. "I like you, Hanlon, and I'm going to test you out. I am not too sure of you, yet, but if I become so, you can go far—very, very far with me. This Rellos I sent for is the man who was shadowing you today. I cannot—I will not!" he spat venomously, "abide failure or incompetence. I am assigning you the pleasant little task of seeing that some sort of an ... uh ... accident happens to Rellos. And as I think about it, it might as well be a ...
— Man of Many Minds • E. Everett Evans

... civilization to the Philippines should not shut the eyes to the wrongs which Filipinos suffered from their successors. But until the latest moment of Spanish rule, the apologists of Spain seemed to think that they ought to be able to turn away the wrath evoked by the cruelty and incompetence that ran riot during centuries, by dwelling upon the benefits of the early days of the ...
— Lineage, Life, and Labors of Jose Rizal, Philippine Patriot • Austin Craig

... carry out honest intentions, and, finally, sufficient earning power to meet all righteous obligations. Dishonest acts result far more often from ignorance, warped sense of justice, inability to appreciate values, cowardice, weak will, or incompetence, than from wrong intent. Whether or not any individual is endowed with the necessary honesty for success in any particular vocation is, therefore, a problem which can be settled only by careful analysis of all its requirements. Law and banking both require a high degree ...
— Analyzing Character • Katherine M. H. Blackford and Arthur Newcomb

... victory, and found nothing to hinder their progress to the African shore. The enemy hastened with the remainder of their fleet to protect Carthage, and the conflict was transferred to Africa. Regulus prosecuted the war with vigor, and, owing to the incompetence of the generals opposed to him, was successful to an extraordinary degree. Both he and the senate became intoxicated to such an extent, that when the Carthaginians made overtures for peace, only intolerable terms were offered them. This resulted in prolonging the war, for ...
— The Story of Rome From the Earliest Times to the End of the Republic • Arthur Gilman

... and told them her first and prettiest story of sacrifice and country love. They listened gravely, but they were not thrilled. Struggling against a growing sense of incompetence, Eveley talked on and on, one story after another, pretty word following pretty word. But each word fell alike on stony ground. They sat like graven images, except for the bright suspicious gleam of ...
— Eve to the Rescue • Ethel Hueston

... Sulla's army, and had received an allotment of confiscated land in Etruria; but, like others, had failed to prosper. The movement was one born of discontent with embarrassments which were mostly brought about by extravagance or incompetence. But the rapidity with which Manlius was able to gather a formidable force round him seems to shew that there were genuine grievances also affecting the agricultural classes in Etruria generally. At any rate there was now no doubt ...
— The Letters of Cicero, Volume 1 - The Whole Extant Correspodence in Chronological Order • Marcus Tullius Cicero

... point, Rodney pocketed the letter and elaborately looked at his watch. Although the action meant that he resigned Cassandra, for he knew his own incompetence and distrusted himself entirely, and lost Katharine, for whom his feeling was profound though unsatisfactory, still it appeared to him that there was nothing else left for him to do. He was forced to go, leaving Katharine ...
— Night and Day • Virginia Woolf

... were fairly boiling. "He goes out of his way to expose his ignorance by triple bucketfuls. He creaks to high Heaven that he is hopelessly behind the common order of things! He invites the streams of Five Watersheds to witness his su-su-su-pernal incompetence, and then he talks as though there were untold reserves of knowledge behind him that he is too modest to bring forward. For a bland, circular, absolutely sincere impostor, ...
— Traffics and Discoveries • Rudyard Kipling

... St Edmunds, and in 1658 a passport to travel abroad with the earl of Pembroke. At the Restoration Denham's services were rewarded by the office of surveyor-general of works. His qualifications as an architect were probably slight, but it is safe to regard as grossly exaggerated the accusations of incompetence and peculation made by Samuel Butler in his brutal "Panegyric upon Sir John Denham's Recovery from his Madness." He eventually secured the services of Christopher Wren as deputy-surveyor. In 1660 he was also made ...
— Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 2 - "Demijohn" to "Destructor" • Various

... which, to Dick's great satisfaction, the good man had permitted and congratulated himself to sit at table with a free-born American—he was even more loquacious. For what then, he would ask, was this incompetence, this imbecility, of France? He would tell. It was the vile corruption of Paris, the grasping of capital and companies, the fatal influence of the still clinging noblesse, and the insidious Jesuitical power of the priests. As for example, Monsieur ...
— Tales of Trail and Town • Bret Harte

... with a high-bred restraint of manner that impressed her strangely, and increased her confusion, adding to it, indeed, a sense of insufficiency and incompetence that she had never before experienced: "Signorina,—you mistake me and my life. I am not at liberty to say what would surely set your mind at rest, but,—I have no wish to change my life, and,—I ...
— A Venetian June • Anna Fuller

... much domestic woe. The narrow-chested, round-shouldered person, whose lungs barely oxydize blood enough to maintain life, is not expected to walk a thousand miles in a thousand hours, or to excel as a performer on wind-instruments. We impute to him no fault for this sort of incompetence. We should rather charge him with consummate folly, if he undertook a line of exercises for which he is so clearly unfitted. We do not wonder, in fact, when this unfortunate pulmonary constitution sends its possessor to an early grave. Why not apply the same philosophy ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Volume 10, Number 59, September, 1862 • Various

... which he had learned as a boy, and running the deer and the boar in the great royal forests, St. Germain, Fontainebleau, Rambouillet. He had all the Bourbon insouciance, and would break off an important discussion of the Council from indifference, incompetence, or impatience, to go off hunting. Worst of all, for an autocrat, he had not in his nature one particle of those qualities that go to make up the man of action, decision, energy, courage, whole-heartedness. ...
— The French Revolution - A Short History • R. M. Johnston

... coal-black aborigines; varna in Sanskrit means "caste" and "colour". Their aesthetic instinct finds expression in a passionate love of poetry, and a tangible object in the tribal chiefs. Loyalty is a religion which is almost proof against its idol's selfishness and incompetence. ...
— Tales of Bengal • S. B. Banerjea

... "she would give me a few words on 'How it Feels to be a Widow?' Rather a good title for an article, isn't it?" These sentences are bad because into an atmosphere of more or less naturalistic comedy they simply introduce a farcical exaggeration of Mr. Shaw's opinion of the incompetence and impudence of journalists. Mr. Shaw's comedies are repeatedly injured by a hurried alteration of atmosphere in this manner. Comedy, as well as tragedy, must create some kind of illusion, and the destruction of the illusion, even for the ...
— Old and New Masters • Robert Lynd

... sudden revulsion against abolitionists with the total incompetence of my agent, caused a financial failure of my lecture, but I made pleasant friendships with Gov. Harvey, Prof. ...
— Half a Century • Jane Grey Cannon Swisshelm

... ghos'es 'u'd want to be believed in by anybody so ignorant!' said Mr. Macey, in deep disgust at the farrier's crass incompetence to apprehend the conditions of ...
— Without Prejudice • Israel Zangwill

... causes;—either the municipal law of foreign countries was not sufficient to enable the governments to control the selfishness or the sentiment of their people,—to which the reply is obvious that the weakness and incompetence of municipal law cannot diminish or excuse international obligations: or it must have been due to a misconception of the obligations which international law imposes. How far there may have been a motive for this misconception, how far the wish was father to the thought of ...
— Twenty Years of Congress, Vol. 1 (of 2) • James Gillespie Blaine

... anyway?" men would ask him angrily, when some instance of his incompetence had added to the work of the others. To this, if they would hear him, he had always an answer. He was a Portuguese, it seemed, of some little town on the coast of East Africa, where a land-locked bay drowsed below the windows of the houses under the day-long sun. ...
— Those Who Smiled - And Eleven Other Stories • Perceval Gibbon

... "Gross incompetence and negligence, Hudson. You are discharged, sir. I'll not have you in my employ an hour longer. A man I have trusted and found ...
— Tangled Trails - A Western Detective Story • William MacLeod Raine

... democracy politicians can be. The real France has never taken with entire seriousness the machinations of "those rats in the Chamber." These "rats" were quite active during the first months of the war. Aside from the incompetence of the first war ministry, which kept the public in ignorance of the danger so completely that the enemy was at Soissons before Paris was aware that the French army was being driven back, and all the blunders of the raid into Alsace, France had its sinister political menace in Joseph ...
— The World Decision • Robert Herrick

... was soon boiling with excitement. The Churchmen, as friends of the proprietors, were delighted to have the estates exempted, thought it a good opportunity to have the Quaker Assembly abolished, and sent petitions and letters and proofs of alleged Quaker incompetence to the British Government. The Quakers and a large majority of the colonists, on the other hand, instead of consenting to their own destruction, struck at the root of the Churchmen's power by proposing to abolish the proprietors. And in a letter to Isaac Norris, Benjamin Franklin, who had ...
— The Quaker Colonies - A Chronicle of the Proprietors of the Delaware, Volume 8 - in The Chronicles Of America Series • Sydney G. Fisher

... with me. And I should not, my dear friend, have inflicted so much of myself upon you, if I had not, unluckily, and in gross miscalculation of my powers, connected your name with the book which proves my incompetence. ...
— Margot Asquith, An Autobiography: Volumes I & II • Margot Asquith

... themselves elected to a legislative assembly by the gift of the gab were likely to be; but still this system of sacrificing the leaders whenever any disaster takes place, and accusing them of treachery and incompetence, is one of the worst features in the French character. If it continues, eventually every man of rank will be dubbed by his own countrymen either a knave ...
— Diary of the Besieged Resident in Paris • Henry Labouchere

... conscience is the most inventive and indefatigable. The devoted daughter, wife, mother, whose life has been given to unselfish labors, who has filled a place which it seems to others only and angel would make good, reproaches herself with incompetence and neglect of duty. The humble Christian, who has been a model to others, calls himself a worm of the dust on one page of his diary, and arraigns himself on the next for coming short of the ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 32, June, 1860 • Various

... by the passions of the hour, and this was especially true in the case of General McClellan; but subsequent events have justified its conclusions generally as to nearly every officer and occurrence investigated, while its usefulness in exposing military blunders and incompetence, and in finally inaugurating the vigorous war policy which saved the country, will scarcely be questioned by any man sufficiently well-informed and fair-minded to give ...
— Political Recollections - 1840 to 1872 • George W. Julian

... rigid requirement which constitutes the fatal seduction of novel-writing to incompetent women. Ladies are not wont to be very grossly deceived as to their power of playing on the piano; here certain positive difficulties of execution have to be conquered, and incompetence inevitably breaks down. Every art which has its absolute technique is, to a certain extent, guarded from the intrusions of mere left-handed imbecility. But in novel-writing there are no barriers for incapacity to stumble against, no external criteria to ...
— George Eliot; A Critical Study of Her Life, Writings & Philosophy • George Willis Cooke

... fluent mind in which every thought and feeling came readily to the lips. "Loose the knots of the heart," he says. We absorb elements enough, but have not leaves and lungs for healthy perspiration and growth. An air of sterility, of incompetence to their proper aims, belongs to many who have both experience and wisdom. But a large utterance, a river, that makes its own shores, quick perception and corresponding expression, a constitution to which ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 6, April, 1858 • Various

... hand that holds neither brush nor chisel? Out upon the shallow conceit! What greater sarcasm can Mr. Ruskin pass upon himself than that he preaches to young men what he cannot perform! Why, unsatisfied with his own conscious power, should he choose to become the type of incompetence by talking for forty years of what he ...
— The Gentle Art of Making Enemies • James McNeill Whistler

... of spiritual ends. They become the tools of all sorts of secular ambitions which promise support in return for their co-operation. And the result may be read by any one not blinded by prejudice in the futility and incompetence of modern religions of all sorts. It is seen perhaps most of all in the pride of opinion which keeps the Christian world in a fragmentary condition, and which approaches the undoing of the sin of a divided Christendom with the preliminary announcement that no separated ...
— Our Lady Saint Mary • J. G. H. Barry

... The staff [a slight impediment in his speech adds to the impression of incompetence produced by his age ...
— Augustus Does His Bit • George Bernard Shaw

... not wholly learned; and there is nothing in their own tastes or purposes to teach them what we mean by abstract truthfulness. When a bad writer is inexact, even if he can look back on half a century of years, we charge him with incompetence and not with dishonesty. And why not extend the same allowance to imperfect speakers? Let a stockbroker be dead stupid about poetry, or a poet inexact in the details of business, and we excuse them ...
— Virginibus Puerisque • Robert Louis Stevenson

... he could not comprehend; forced to deal with things he would have preferred to despise, yet facing it all with dogged seriousness and making no attempt to conceal that he felt secretly ashamed of his incompetence. ...
— Three John Silence Stories • Algernon Blackwood

... of his Soul was mov'd, And bubbled up with Jewels, and he said; "Oh Shah, I am the Slave of thy Desire, Dust of thy Throne ascending Foot am I; Whatever thou Desirest I would do, But sicken of my own Incompetence; Not in the Hand of my infirmer Will To carry into Deed mine own Desire. Time upon Time I torture mine own Soul, Devising liberation from the Snare I languish in. But when upon that Moon I think, my Soul relapses—and when look— I ...
— Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Salaman and Absal • Omar Khayyam and Ralph Waldo Emerson

... name to each other; and above all of our insufferable reputation for an abject meekness. We're really not meek a bit—we're secretly quite ferocious; but we're held to be ashamed of ourselves not only for our proved business incompetence, but for our lack of first-rate artistic power as well: it being now definitely on record that we've never yet designed a single type of ice-pitcher—since that's the damnable form Father's production more and more runs to; his uncanny ideal is to turn out ...
— The Whole Family - A Novel by Twelve Authors • William Dean Howells, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Mary Heaton Vorse, Mary Stewart Cutting, Elizabeth Jo

... to be sure that the Eights were slow, the Fours deficient in pace, the pairs on the minus side of nothing, and the scullers preposterous. Rowing must be in a bad way when it can boast no better champions (save the mark!) than those who last week aired their incompetence, and impeded the traffic of the people upon the Thames. Time was when an oarsman was an oarsman, but now he is a miserable cross between a Belgravian flunkey and a riverside tout. Which is all I care to ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 99, August 9, 1890. • Various

... preclude the possibility of surprise. With the kind of army furnished him he could hardly have won a victory under any circumstances; but the overwhelming nature of the defeat was mainly due to his incompetence. ...
— The Winning of the West, Volume Four - Louisiana and the Northwest, 1791-1807 • Theodore Roosevelt

... that Providence itself assumed the guidance of this longsuffering Union army, that had been so often led by incompetence in the field and paralyzed by interference at Washington. Even the philosophical historian, the Comte de Paris, admits this truth in ...
— An Original Belle • E. P. Roe

... as she had got over any tendency to faint, but she had no intention of leaving him to his fate. She had just seen in a pocket of his leather apron those big garden-shears which she had noticed him plying with such marked incompetence, and it occurred to her suddenly that they might be of some real service now. She ran up and, watching her opportunity, succeeded in whipping them out. Then she stepped behind the serpent, and forced the blades together ...
— In Brief Authority • F. Anstey

... you access to the abundance that mocks you in every shop window, and bars you out of the houses that line the streets. Here, everything needful is yours for the taking. If one is ignorant, or unable to convert wood and water and game to his own uses, he must learn how, or pay the penalty of incompetence. No, little person, I don't think the law of life is nearly so harsh here as it is where the mob struggles for its daily bread. It's more open and aboveboard here; more up to the individual. But it's lonely sometimes. I ...
— North of Fifty-Three • Bertrand W. Sinclair

... rigging, will be felt now; and this danger, if we escape it, ought to remind us how much we have to answer for if we neglect our duty. The lives of a whole ship's company may be sacrificed by the neglect or incompetence of an officer when in harbour. I will pay you the compliment, Falcon, to say, that I feel convinced that the masts of the ship are as secure as knowledge and attention can ...
— Peter Simple and The Three Cutters, Vol. 1-2 • Frederick Marryat

... unwilling to admit. A candidate at the hustings would run a poor chance of a hearing who, instead of seeming to appeal to the reason of the mob should, in the truthfulness of his soul, try to convince them of their utter incompetence to judge the simplest political point. Again, though unable to decide between cause and cause, yet the rudest can often see that there is much to be said on both sides—though what, he does not understand; and if this fact weakens his confidence in the right, it also weakens it in ...
— The Faith of the Millions (2nd series) • George Tyrrell

... with money, mere incompetence, did not turn that heart to stone,—not that alone. The small segment of the world that knew the Poles might think so, hearing how Larry had gone into Wall Street and fatuously left there his own small fortune, and later, going back after his lesson, had lost what he could of his wife's property. ...
— Together • Robert Herrick (1868-1938)

... this day, just as his painstaking, minute, incisive methods are still unchanged. But to the careless, stupid, or lazy person he is a terror for the short time they remain around him. Honest mistakes may be tolerated, but not carelessness, incompetence, or lack of attention to business. In such cases Edison is apt to express himself freely and forcibly, as when he was asked why he had parted with a certain man, he said: "Oh, he was so slow that it would take him half an hour to get out ...
— Edison, His Life and Inventions • Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin

... economic future of the South were excluded from the Government as traitors. Their places were filled by Northern adventurers and by negroes. The Mississippi convention included seventeen negroes, and was called the "black and tan." Inexperience and incompetence were in control, leading to extravagance and dishonesty, but the conventions were generally superior to the legislatures ...
— The New Nation • Frederic L. Paxson

... Trent answered, "you've no connection at all with the Company! you're dismissed, sir, for incompetence and cowardice, and if you're not off the premises in three minutes it'll be ...
— A Millionaire of Yesterday • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... They are sending a group of picked men to Russia to inoculate the grasses on the steppes with this Francis stuff. Sheer waste of trained men; bungling incompetence. Why not send a specially selected group of hypnotists to persuade the Russians to sue for peace? It would be better to have given them Mills bombs and let them blow up the Kremlin. Time and effort and good men thrown ...
— Greener Than You Think • Ward Moore

... a respite was obtained for the States at this critical time, which was turned to good account and was of vital import for their constitutional development. The Leicestrian period, despite its record of incompetence and failure, had however the distinction of being the period which for good or for evil gave birth to the republic of the United Netherlands, as we know it in history. The curious, amorphous, hydra-headed system of government, which was to subsist for some two centuries, ...
— History of Holland • George Edmundson

... accomplished that she was discovered bleating in the corner of one of the coaches. We had a meeting to decide whether she should come on with us or not, and arranged to put her on the job of tidying up for the trip; but her hopeless incompetence and ready impertinence to her superior officers, necessitated instant dismissal without a character. However, as she is really not worth the trouble of sending back, we locked up the tea tin, and let her continue the journey on the condition that she ...
— Argentina From A British Point Of View • Various

... much to say that almost the whole of its goodness has been preserved by its having an official and party protector in the House of Commons. Without that contrivance we should have drifted back into the errors of the old Poor Law, and superadded to them the present meanness and incompetence in our large towns. All would have been given up to local management. Parliament would have interfered with the central board till it made it impotent, and the local authorities would have been despotic. The first administration of the new Poor Law was by "Commissioners"—the ...
— The English Constitution • Walter Bagehot

... Crisis Hupfeldiana, p. 34,—the most masterly and instructive exposure of Bp. Colenso's incompetence and presumption which has ever appeared. Intended specially of his handling of the writings of Moses, the remarks in the text are equally applicable to much which has been put forth concerning the authorship of the ...
— The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark • John Burgon

... all gifts of Nature is vested in the public at large; and while it is in duty bound to observe the contracts which it makes with private parties, it is also not to be thought that the dishonesty or incompetence of a public official, or the failure to foresee the future, can work for too long a time an ...
— Monopolies and the People • Charles Whiting Baker

... of command were so automatic that Jason found himself listening in quiet obedience. Though one part of his mind wanted him to smile at the quick assumption of his incompetence. ...
— Deathworld • Harry Harrison

... patiently the disappointment, the misunderstanding, the doubt, the criticism, the woe of millions who had no other hope but in his success and were often on the verge of despair. He beheld his plans defeated by the incompetence or errors of subordinates whom he trusted, and let the blame be laid upon himself without protest or murmuring. He knew better than any one else the terrible cost of life which his unrelenting purpose demanded; but he knew also that the price of relenting, involving the discouragement ...
— Ulysses S. Grant • Walter Allen

... two days of battle at Pittsburg Landing, had sullenly retired to Corinth, whence he had come. For manifest incompetence Grant, whose beaten army had been saved from destruction and capture by Buell's soldierly activity and skill, had been relieved of his command, which nevertheless had not been given to Buell, but ...
— The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. II: In the Midst of Life: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians • Ambrose Bierce

... the announcement, audible enough, that the old Empire of Routine has ended; that to say a thing has long been, is no reason for its continuing to be. The things which have been are fallen into decay, are fallen into incompetence; large masses of mankind, in every society of our Europe, are no longer capable of living at all by the things which have been. When millions of men can no longer by their utmost exertion gain food for ...
— Sartor Resartus, and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History • Thomas Carlyle

... eleventh hour—Italy might have gained the sense of national coherence, or at least have proved herself capable of holding by her leagues the foreigner at bay. As it was, the battle of Fornovo, in spite of Venetian bonfires and Mantuan Madonnas of Victory, made her conscious of incompetence and convicted her of cowardice. After Fornovo, her sons scarcely dared to hold their heads up in the field against invaders; and the battles fought upon her soil were duels among aliens ...
— New Italian sketches • John Addington Symonds

... N. impotence; inability, disability; disablement, impuissance, imbecility; incapacity, incapability; inaptitude, ineptitude, incompetence, unproductivity[obs3]; indocility[obs3]; invalidity, disqualification; inefficiency, wastefulness. telum imbelle[Lat], brutum fulmen[Lat], blank, blank cartridge, flash in the pan, vox et proeterea nihil[Lat], dead letter, ...
— Roget's Thesaurus • Peter Mark Roget

... emotion of that period of the history of Virginia in which her local magistrates had managed county affairs in such a way as to secure her "safety, honor, and welfare," when universal suffrage had not "cursed the country with ignorance and incompetence, legally established at present, indeed, but sure to be supplemented by a property or educational test eventually." In religion they were what "the Aglonbys had always been,—attached adherents of the Episcopal Church in this country, ...
— Lippincott's Magazine, September, 1885 • Various

... some difficulty in the part for which he had cast himself. He had expected to condescend upon an elderly inept and give him sharp instructions; instead he found himself faced with a jovial, virile figure which certainly did not suggest incompetence. It has been mentioned already that he had always great difficulty in looking any one in the face, and this difficulty was intensified when he found himself confronted with bold and candid eyes. He felt abashed ...
— Huntingtower • John Buchan

... Wade desired to know who John Hobb was, and the Doctor was forced to acknowledge him a quite mythical character, whose name in that part of the world stood proverbially for incompetence. After that when any of the four made a mistake he or she was promptly dubbed John Hobb. For once the unwritten law was unobserved, and it was long past ten when the party broke up, Eve and the Doctor having captured the best of a series of rubbers. After they had gone Wade put out the downstair ...
— The Lilac Girl • Ralph Henry Barbour

... to blackmail the Allies, because their sympathies were with Germany, they believed Germany would win, and they filled their newspapers with scurrilous attacks on the British, accusing them of cowardice and military incompetence.[71] ...
— The Problem of China • Bertrand Russell

... contradictory. But it is the facts that contradict themselves. It seems clear that the deceased did not commit suicide. It seems equally clear that the deceased was not murdered. There is nothing for it, therefore, gentlemen, but to return a verdict tantamount to an acknowledgment of our incompetence to come to any adequately grounded conviction whatever as to the means or the manner by which the deceased met his death. It is the most inexplicable mystery in all my ...
— The Big Bow Mystery • I. Zangwill

... swept its beauty away, its destroyers have not been either the philanthropist or the Socialist, the co-operator or the anarchist. It has been sold, and at a cheap price indeed: muddled away by the greed and incompetence of fools who do not know what life and pleasure mean, who will neither take them themselves nor let others have them. That is why the death of that beauty wounds us so: no man of sense or feeling would dare to regret such losses if they had been paid for by new ...
— Signs of Change • William Morris

... incompetence, brought into the most immediate connection with our own interests and affections. See what it is for our friend Mrs. Curtis to reflect that her son was slain in that seemingly reckless assault upon the intrenchments at Fredericksburg, or for me that my son may be sent off in rotten transports ...
— Autobiography and Letters of Orville Dewey, D.D. - Edited by his Daughter • Orville Dewey

... this battle as minutely as possible in order to show that incompetence of generals was not ...
— My Reminiscences of the Anglo-Boer War • Ben Viljoen

... know, I picked up the other day an old LONGMAN'S, where I found an article of yours that I had missed, about Christie's? I read it with great delight. The year ends with us pretty much as it began, among wars and rumours of wars, and a vast and splendid exhibition of official incompetence. ...
— Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson - Volume 2 • Robert Louis Stevenson

... me to considerable expense and trouble, not to say danger. He was aware of that, and yet he refused to pay his share. He accused me of incompetence. Very well. That presuggested that I must have made an error, and it was on that assumption that he said I did not know my business. Instead of giving me a chance to correct the error, which he declared I had made, he ...
— Tom Swift and his Undersea Search - or, The Treasure on the Floor of the Atlantic • Victor Appleton

... weighty omissions. It would be needless to say that no blame attaches to Gibbon for neglecting views of history which had not emerged in his time, if there were not persons who, forgetting the slow progress of knowledge, are apt to ascribe the defects of a book to incompetence in its author. If Gibbon's conception of the Middle Ages seems to us inadequate now, it is because since his time our conceptions of society in that and in all periods have been much enlarged. We may be quite certain ...
— Gibbon • James Cotter Morison

... whom they believed to be a god, and it was a theft that led to the tragedy at Kealakekua Bay; and it must not be forgotten that the Hawaiians of to-day are many of them poor. One residual trait of savage incompetence I have already referred to; they cannot administer a trust—I was told there had never yet been a case known. Even a judge, skilled in the knowledge of the law and upright in its administration, was found insusceptible of those duties and ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 18 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... me an autograph letter asking whether I would accept one of the positions on the new Interstate Railway Commission. I felt it a great honor to be asked to act as colleague with such men as Chief Justice Cooley, Mr. Morrison, and others already upon that board, but I recognized my own incompetence to discharge the duties of such a position properly. Though I had been, some years before, a director in two of the largest railway corporations in the United States, my heart was never in that duty, and I never prepared myself to discharge it. Thinking ...
— Volume I • Andrew Dickson White

... leafy sanctuaries, remote and inner, Where the great heart of nature, beating bare, Receives benignantly both saint and sinner;— Leaving propriety to gasp and stare, And shake its head, like Burleigh, after dinner, From pure incompetence to mar or mend them: They fled and wed;—though, mind, I ...
— Collected Poems - In Two Volumes, Vol. II • Austin Dobson

... waggons and supplies of England, fell into the hands of the Scots. In eight strenuous years the generalship of Bruce and his war-leaders, the resolution of the people, hardened by the cruelties of Edward, the sermons of the clergy, and the utter incompetence of Edward II., had redeemed a desperate chance. From a fief of England, Scotland had ...
— A Short History of Scotland • Andrew Lang

... me of professional incompetence next, I dare say," continued Doctor Hartley. "I have not told you before, but I'll tell you now, that I consider it a breach of the etiquette that governs our profession, ...
— Bella Donna - A Novel • Robert Hichens

... by murmurs of approval from various other females, which completely silenced Monsieur Leddin, who never reopened his mouth during the entire evening, so that one could not tell whether he was nursing his offended dignity or hiding his absolute incompetence ...
— With Those Who Wait • Frances Wilson Huard

... that you don't want to discharge him for incompetence and risk a law suit," Mr. Feldman went on. "Now, before we go on, how much does his share of your profits amount to ...
— Potash & Perlmutter - Their Copartnership Ventures and Adventures • Montague Glass

... despatch David Dundas proclaimed his own incompetence. For some time it had been obvious that the Republicans were about to attack Fort Mulgrave, which everybody knew to be essential to the defence of the fleet. Yet he took no steps to strengthen this "temporary ...
— William Pitt and the Great War • John Holland Rose

... into my own office, whither I had fled to forget his manifest incompetence. His hat was well back, and he seemed to be inflated with secrecy. I remembered it was thus he had impressed me just previous to the coup that had relieved us of Potts. I knew at once that he was going to be ...
— The Boss of Little Arcady • Harry Leon Wilson

... the incompetence of men in general as observers, their carelessness about things at the moment indifferent, but which may become of consequence hereafter (as, for example, in the dating of letters), their want of impartiality, both in seeing ...
— The Writings of James Russell Lowell in Prose and Poetry, Volume V - Political Essays • James Russell Lowell

... Gould to the office. I want him to help me. I don't give a damn for the scaling. You'll have to get along somehow. The five of you ought to hold that down. Send up Gould, anyhow." He slammed up the receiver, muttering something about incompetence. Bob for a moment had a strong impulse to retort, but his anger died. He saw that Collins was not for the moment thinking of him at all as a human being, as a personality—only as a piece of this great, swiftly moving machine, that would not run smoothly. The fact ...
— The Rules of the Game • Stewart Edward White

... indeed had been already sold and invested as a dowry for Nelly, who showed signs of engaging herself to a Scotch laird. But Falloden was joint guardian of Trix and Roger, and must keep a watchful eye on them, now that his mother's soft incompetence had been more plainly revealed than ever by her widow-hood. He chafed under the duties imposed, and yet fulfilled them—anxiously and well—to ...
— Lady Connie • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... oneself the actor or the unwilling auditor, that while such an exhibition of joy might perhaps pass, yet a similar incompetent attempt to express any of the last-named emotions would be only ridiculous? But between this single worshipper and the congregation the incompetence seems to me only a question of degree; while in the far more considerable respect of the sincerity of the feeling in the hearts of those expressing it, Law's singer has every advantage; indeed no objection ...
— A Practical Discourse on Some Principles of Hymn-Singing • Robert Bridges

... imperilled supremacy. Indeed he knew it as a fact that some of the most infatuated scholars actually voted against compulsion, simply to confuse the issue. Still, for the moment it was a great victory, a crushing blow to Oxford, the stronghold of mediaevalism, incompetence and Hanoverianism, and an immense relief to the sorely-tried physique of the nation. For he was able to assure them, speaking with the authority of one who had taken first-class honours in Zoology, that the ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, April 16, 1919 • Various

... gone on flattering and cajoling this chaos of political incompetence until the just penalty of believing their own fictions has befallen them, and the average member of Parliament is conscientiously convinced that it is his duty, not to act for his constituents to the best of his judgment, but to do exactly what they, ...
— The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley Volume 2 • Leonard Huxley

... the latter phrase; but Whitman knew very well, and showed very nobly, that the average man was full of joys and full of poetry of his own. And this harping on life's dulness and man's meanness is a loud profession of incompetence; it is one of two things: the cry of the blind eye, I cannot see, or the complaint of the dumb tongue, I cannot utter. To draw a life without delights is to prove I have not realised it. To picture a man without some sort of poetry—well, it goes near to prove my case, for it ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 16 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... that the art of camouflage is most practiced, and reaches to highest flights. All chiefs everywhere are now kept painted, by the busy work of numberless publicists, so as to be mistaken for Napoleons—at a distance....It becomes almost impossible to displace these Napoleons, whatever their incompetence, because of the enormous public support created by hiding or glossing failure, and exaggerating or inventing success.... But the most insidious and worst effect of this so highly organized falsity is on the generals themselves: modest and patriotic as ...
— Public Opinion • Walter Lippmann

... that have left certain races and families isolated in stagnant eddies from which some sudden current of a whimsical tide might sweep them out into the full flood of progress, until they then overtook and passed their hitherto successful rivals, who, in their turn, would drift off into progressive incompetence and degeneracy? Biology does not look with enthusiasm on the methods of chance and accident. The choice and transmission of the forty-eight chromosomes that give to each individual his character-potential are probably in accordance with some obscure ...
— Towards the Great Peace • Ralph Adams Cram

... reason became the slogan of an assault upon official incompetence and treachery that hurried things up considerably. The property was condemned at a total cost to the city of a million and a half, in round numbers, including the assessment of half a million for ...
— The Battle with the Slum • Jacob A. Riis

... development, and while there is hardly a single German government (and this includes Austria) which is not far ahead of Prussia—for this reason alone loses all claim to representing the German working class; for such a party shows by this alone a depth of illusion, self-conceit, and incompetence drunken with the sound of its own words, which must dash all hope of expecting from it a real development of the ...
— The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. X. • Kuno Francke

... influence with reflecting men, was the obvious incompetence of the American force to its object. The Canadians had expected a powerful army—sufficient for the protection of the country; and their disappointment in this respect, produced a great change in their ...
— The Life of George Washington, Vol. 2 (of 5) • John Marshall

... life and all things in it that made him the inspiring companion and friend he was, that widened his sympathies until he, whose intolerance was a byword with his contemporaries, showed himself tolerant of everything save sham and incompetence. The men who would tell you in their day, who will tell you now, of the great debt they owe to Henley, are men of the most varied interests, whose style and subject both might have been expected to prove a great gulf to separate them. Ask Arthur Morrison straight from the East End, or ...
— Nights - Rome, Venice, in the Aesthetic Eighties; London, Paris, in the Fighting Nineties • Elizabeth Robins Pennell

... things are less understood than the conditions of the spiritual life. The distressing incompetence of which most of us are conscious in trying to work out our spiritual experience is due perhaps less to the diseased will which we commonly blame for it than to imperfect knowledge of the right conditions. It does ...
— Beautiful Thoughts • Henry Drummond

... believe in him no more than I did, but stood it with him on account of Karen, bein' a man that loved domestic comfort, and havin' lived in dirt, on pan-cakes and canned meats durin' different rains of incompetence materialized in hired girl form, before Karen come. But Karen worshipped Jabez, his highest mounts of future eminence seemed too low for his footstool in her adorin' eyes, somehow the very loftiness of his airs to her, his own mother who supported him and bought his clothes, ...
— Samantha at the St. Louis Exposition • Marietta Holley

... with the way the Med Service had been operated in Sector Twelve. He was one of many men at work to correct the results of incompetence in directing Med Service in the twelfth sector. But it is always disheartening to have to labor at making up for somebody else's blundering, when there is so much new work that needs to ...
— Pariah Planet • Murray Leinster

... cases, such as those of Descartes and Kant, have been largely acquainted with its details. On the other hand, the founder of Positivism no less admirably illustrates the connexion of scientific incapacity with philosophical incompetence. In truth, the laboratory is the fore-court of the temple of philosophy; and whoso has not offered sacrifices and undergone purification there, has little chance of admission into ...
— Hume - (English Men of Letters Series) • T.H. Huxley

... rudimental teeth of the whale, of rudimental jaws in insects which never bite, and rudimental eyes in blind animals, goes on: "And we would remind those who, ignorant of the facts, must be moved by authority, that no one has asserted the incompetence of the doctrine of final causes, in its application to physiology and anatomy, more strongly than our own eminent anatomist, Professor Owen, who, speaking of such cases, says ("On the Nature of Limbs," pages 39, 40), 'I think it will be obvious that the ...
— More Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume I (of II) • Charles Darwin

... "Post-Impressionist technique" for presenting insignificant patterns and recounting foolish anecdotes. Their pictures will be dubbed "Post-Impressionist," but only by gross injustice will they be excluded from Burlington House. Post-Impressionism is no specific against human folly and incompetence. All it can do for painters is to bring before them the claims of art. To the man of genius and to the student of talent it can say: "Don't waste your time and energy on things that don't matter: concentrate on what does: concentrate on the creation of significant form." Only thus can either ...
— Art • Clive Bell

... one to the other with an apprehensive glance. His pale eyes had that dulness which betokens, if not an absorption in the things to come, that which often passes for the same, an incompetence ...
— The Velvet Glove • Henry Seton Merriman

... piping and discontented, and my stumbling horse more insecure, and I more determined (as I am at this moment) that somehow or other I would reach that blue hollow, and even stand on Long's Peak where the snow was glittering. Affairs were becoming serious, and Chalmers's incompetence a source of real peril, when, after an exploring expedition, he returned more bumptious than ever, saying he knew it would be all right, he had found a trail, and we could get across the river by dark, and camp out for the night. So he led us into a steep, deep, rough ravine, where ...
— A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains • Isabella L. Bird

... ulterior purpose, and that every situation is informed with moral significance and grandeur. Of no other man can the same thing be said in the same degree. His romances are not to be confused with "the novel with a purpose" as familiar to the English reader: this is generally the model of incompetence; and we see the moral clumsily forced into every hole and corner of the story, or thrown externally over it like a carpet over a railing. Now the moral significance, with Hugo, is of the essence of ...
— Familiar Studies of Men & Books • Robert Louis Stevenson

... order to win their trust and respect, he must show himself equal to their tasks, a true comrade, who accepted their code of courage and honor. The fact that he wore spectacles was against him at the outset, because they associated spectacles with Eastern schoolmasters and incompetence. They called him "Four Eyes," at first with derision, but they soon discovered that in him they had no "tenderfoot" to deal with. He shot as well as the best of them; he rode as far; he never complained of food or tasks or hardship; he met every ...
— Theodore Roosevelt; An Intimate Biography, • William Roscoe Thayer

... you'd have done great things; and a fat lot of good you'd have got out of it, too! That's an Englishman all over! make bad laws and give away all the land, and then, when your economic incompetence produces its natural and inevitable results, get virtuously indignant and kill the people that ...
— John Bull's Other Island • George Bernard Shaw

... thanksgiving. He had set his heart on commanding her, and he would have been bitterly disappointed if so fine a ship had been lost to him and the Navy through the despicable cupidity of a mandarin and the incompetence of ...
— A Chinese Command - A Story of Adventure in Eastern Seas • Harry Collingwood

... Virginia Forces, spread over the world. A new statesman, one of the ablest ever born in England, came to control the English Government. William Pitt, soon created Earl of Chatham, saw that the British Empire had reached a crisis in its development. Incompetence, inertia, had blurred its prestige, and the little victories which France, its chief enemy, had been winning against it piecemeal, were coming to be regarded as signs that the grandeur of Britain was passing. ...
— George Washington • William Roscoe Thayer

... very important. Two or three of the leading newspapers had first hinted at and then openly condemned the incompetence and slowness of the police. Such censure, as we all know, is very common, and in nine cases out of ten it is unjust. They who write it probably know but little of the circumstances;—and, in speaking ...
— The Eustace Diamonds • Anthony Trollope

... ways, even of higher animals, to dogmatize regarding the acts of lower animals, but we may safely assume that one apparent ground or distinction between instinct and reason may be found in the common incompetence of instinct to move out of the beaten track of existence, and in the adaptation of reason, through the teachings of experience, to new and unwonted circumstances. Let Dr. Carpenter speak as an authority on such a ...
— A Book of Natural History - Young Folks' Library Volume XIV. • Various

... on a scale wholly out of proportion to the real worth of the services performed. Extremely strong evidence has been tendered to show that in many large towns, especially in Leeds and Liverpool, the "sweating" tailor has frequently "no practical knowledge of his trade." The ignorance and incompetence of the working tailors enables a Jew with a business mind, by bribing managers, to obtain a contract for work which he makes no pretence to execute himself. His ability consists simply in the fact that he can get more work at a cheaper rate out of ...
— Problems of Poverty • John A. Hobson

... was either somehow embedded, by a competent and responsible Creator, in man's very constitution as a necessary process of his evolution, or else it slipped into the race through the bungling and unwatchful incompetence of an impotent Creator. Thus in either case God becomes ...
— The Church, the Schools and Evolution • J. E. (Judson Eber) Conant

... being accused of mental incompetence," I snapped. "Why do we stand around accusing people back and forth when there's evidence if ...
— Highways in Hiding • George Oliver Smith

... should rapidly augment the population, and thus extend the basis of government and the number from which its officers may be chosen. The feelings of the colonists have, indeed, been too often violated by the scandalous multiplication of offices and the utter incompetence of those who have filled them. But a community little more than half a century old cannot be entitled to denounce Englishmen as foreigners, or to complain that strangers usurp the rights of the country-born. A wise administration of local ...
— The History of Tasmania , Volume II (of 2) • John West

... been, were probably recognisable then, and were undeniably libelled, though they did not appeal to a jury. It is improbable that Sir John Cope had ever tried to oblige Smollett. His ignoble attack on Cope, after that unfortunate General had been fairly and honourably acquitted of incompetence and cowardice, was, then, wholly disinterested. Cope is ...
— Adventures among Books • Andrew Lang

... service to the theatre, insomuch that, upon his failing to attend at his post by reason of serious illness, the manager employed a substitute to officiate in his stead, until such time as his health was restored to him. The incompetence of the deputy, however, became too manifest; though he laid about him with incredible violence, he did it in such wrong places, that the audience soon discovered he was not their old friend the real trunkmaker. With the players the trunkmaker was naturally ...
— A Book of the Play - Studies and Illustrations of Histrionic Story, Life, and Character • Dutton Cook

... awarded and did enjoy the office of Resident Engineer of said bridge during a period covering the greater part of the construction thereof, and received the full salary of said office, to and until said Blake took charge of said bridge, which had been imperilled by your incompetence; and said Blake, against your strenuous objections and opposition and at great personal risk, saved ...
— Out of the Depths - A Romance of Reclamation • Robert Ames Bennet

... &c adj.; imbecility, incapacity, vacancy of mind, poverty of intellect, weakness of intellect, clouded perception, poor head, apartments to let; stupidity, stolidity; hebetude^, dull understanding, meanest capacity, shortsightedness; incompetence &c (unskillfulness) 699. one's weak side, not one's strong point; bias &c 481; infatuation &c (insanity) 503. simplicity, puerility, babyhood; dotage, anility^, second childishness, fatuity; idiocy, idiotism^; driveling. ...
— Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases: Body • Roget

... not pay—we ought not to pay—for incompetence, for impertinence, for disobedience of orders, for laziness, for shirking, for cheating, or for theft. To do so is a social wrong. It is the wrong that lies back, not only of sinecures and spoils, but of employing incompetent ...
— The Warriors • Lindsay, Anna Robertson Brown

... coherent account we had heard at first hand. Two things impressed us—the tragedy, the futility. The former aspect hit us all; the latter struck strongly at Old and Cal. Those youngsters, wise in the ways of the plains, were filled with sad surprise over the incompetence of it all. ...
— Gold • Stewart White

... the drugs and prescribed for confiding customers until a mistake that might have had disastrous consequences led to his being fired. Foster went with him, and they next undertook to cook, without any useful knowledge of the art, for a railroad construction gang. Their incompetence became obvious when Lawrence attempted to save labor by putting a week's supply of desiccated apples to soak at once, with the consequence that the floor of the caboose was covered with swollen fruit that had forced itself out of the pot. One of the gang, who went ...
— Carmen's Messenger • Harold Bindloss

... we may put it down as a general truth that, when we find a cause using force or mere advantage of position, it is because there is incompetence or lack of brains in those who conduct it, and the cure lies, not in more force, but in more brains. One cannot help being angered by force, because one knows that it is not only not a remedy, but is itself the cause of all incompetence and blindness in business. ...
— Crowds - A Moving-Picture of Democracy • Gerald Stanley Lee

... but one instance, in the whole course of Parliamentary impeachments, in which evidence offered by the Commons has been rejected on the plea of inadmissibility or incompetence. This was in the case of Lord Strafford's trial; when the copy of a warrant (the same not having any attestation to authenticate it as a true copy) was, on deliberation, not admitted,—and your Committee thinks, as the case stood, ...
— The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. XI. (of 12) • Edmund Burke

... look-out man or captain of the watch, or given some sort of precedence, and the lazy shirker have tasted the rope's end half a dozen times a day. The metaphorical ship, your worship, is likely to be capsized by its captain's incompetence. ...
— Works, V3 • Lucian of Samosata

... be cleverer, more perceptive, wilier, than she; and he ought to have been able to muster the diplomatic skill necessary for smooth and felicitous intercourse. Any friction, whether due to her stupidity or not, was a proof of his incompetence in ...
— Clayhanger • Arnold Bennett



Words linked to "Incompetence" :   unfitness, disease, incompetent, valvular incompetence, competence, hypogonadism, displaying incompetence, inability



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