from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Being in a beginning or early stage; incipient.
  • adjective Imperfectly formed or developed; disordered or incoherent.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Recently or just begun; incipient; in a state of incipiency; hence, elementary; rudimentary; not completely formed or established: as, inchoate rights.
  • To begin.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Recently, or just, begun; beginning; partially but not fully in existence or operation; existing in its elements; incomplete.
  • transitive verb obsolete To begin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Recently started but not fully formed yet; just begun; only elementary or immature.
  • adjective Chaotic, disordered, confused; also, incoherent, rambling.
  • noun rare A beginning, an immature start.
  • verb To begin or start something.
  • verb To cause or bring about.
  • verb To make a start.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective only partly in existence; imperfectly formed


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin inchoātus, past participle of inchoāre, to begin, alteration of incohāre : in-, in; see in– + cohum, strap from yoke to harness.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin incohātus ("begun, unfinished"), perfect passive participle of incohō ("begin").



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  • So much potential, so little clarity.

    December 6, 2006

  • Pronouncing this word terrifies me.

    April 13, 2007

  • "in-koh-it"

    April 13, 2007

  • I say in-ko-ate. It's a funny word to me because I went to Choate, which is pronounced pretty much the way it's spelled (chote).

    May 21, 2007

  • I say "in-ko-ate" too. Arby, I always want to pronounce "Choate" as "ko-ate." Go figure.

    November 8, 2007

  • I know it's wrong, but it always looks like IN-cho-ate to my eye. Why didn't the queen consult me when she fashyned her English? Hmph!

    November 8, 2007

  • I first encountered this word in a review of the Neil Young album 'Landing On Water'. Overall it was not complimentary.

    March 10, 2009

  • I had a professor call one of my papers 'inchoate' once. Fortunately it was only a conference over a draft.

    October 4, 2009

  • Good article in the Times magazine today on this word:

    January 5, 2010

  • pronounced KOH-it or KOH-ate


    1. In an initial or early stage; incipient.

    2. Imperfectly formed or developed: a vague, inchoate idea.

    March 14, 2011