AskDefine | Define inchoate

Dictionary Definition

inchoate adj : only partly in existence; imperfectly formed; "incipient civil disorder"; "an incipient tumor"; "a vague inchoate idea" [syn: incipient]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the Latin, incohatus the past participle of incohare, "to begin".


  • italbrac RP: /ɪnˈkəʊət/ or /ɪnˈkəʊeɪt/
  • italbrac US: /ɪnˈkoʊət/ or /ɪnˈkoʊeɪt/


  1. Recently started but not fully formed yet; just begun; only elementary or immature.
  2. Chaotic, disordered, confused; also, incoherent, rambling.


  • 1803 — Supreme Court of the United States, Marbury v. Madison
    This appointment is evidenced by an open, unequivocal act, and, being the last act required from the person making it, necessarily excludes the idea of its being, so far as it respects the appointment, an inchoate and incomplete transaction.
  • 1839 — Cherokee Constitution
    It being determined that a constitution should be made for the inchoate government, men were selected by its sponsors, from those at the Illinois Camp Ground, including as many western Cherokees as could be induced to sign it.
  • 1885 — Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, On the Death of General Gordon
    ...unfortunately, we have to face inchoate schemes which will demand the utmost jealousy and vigilance of Parliament.
  • 1889 — Robert Louis Stevenson, The Wrong Box, ch VI
    The private conception of any breach of law is apt to be inspiriting, for the scheme (while yet inchoate) wears dashing and attractive colours.
  • 1892 — George Gissing, Born In Exile
    A youth whose brain glowed like a furnace, whose heart throbbed with tumult of high ambitions, of inchoate desires.
  • 1919 — H. P. Lovecraft, The Doom That Came to Sarnath
    Very odd and ugly were these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely fashioned.
  • 1928 - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf
    How inutterably sad was the look this fluid inchoate figure of the wolf threw from his beautiful shy eyes.
  • 2004 — The New Yorker, 29 March 2004
    Guthrie’s inchoate socialist leanings grew into a deep commitment to the labor movement.
  • 2007 — Ezra Klein, What Has Happened To The Right?
    This is the politics of hate. Screaming, sobbing, inchoate, hate.



  1. A beginning, an immature start.


  1. To begin or start something.
  2. To cause or bring about.
  3. To make a start.

Extensive Definition

The term inchoate has more than one meaning.
In Law it may refer to:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abecedarian, aboriginal, aimless, aleatoric, aleatory, amorphic, amorphous, anarchic, antenatal, autochthonous, baggy, beginning, blobby, blurred, blurry, broad, budding, capricious, casual, chance, chancy, chaotic, characterless, confused, creative, desultory, disarticulated, disconnected, discontinuous, disjointed, disjunct, disordered, disorderly, dispersed, disproportionate, elemental, elementary, embryonic, erratic, featureless, fetal, fitful, foggy, formative, formless, foundational, frivolous, fundamental, fuzzy, general, gestatory, gratuitous, haphazard, hazy, hit-or-miss, ill-defined, immethodical, imprecise, in embryo, in its infancy, in the bud, inaccurate, inaugural, inceptive, inchoative, incipient, incoherent, incunabular, indecisive, indefinable, indefinite, indeterminable, indeterminate, indiscriminate, indistinct, inexact, infant, infantile, inform, initial, initiative, initiatory, introductory, inventive, irregular, kaleidoscopic, kindred, lax, loose, lumpen, meaningless, misshapen, misty, nascent, natal, nondescript, nonspecific, nonsymmetrical, nonsystematic, nonuniform, obscure, orderless, original, parturient, planless, postnatal, pregnant, prenatal, primal, primary, prime, primeval, primitive, primogenial, procreative, promiscuous, random, rudimental, rudimentary, senseless, shadowed forth, shadowy, shapeless, spasmodic, sporadic, stochastic, straggling, straggly, sweeping, systemless, unarranged, unclassified, unclear, undefined, undestined, undetermined, undirected, ungraded, unjoined, unmethodical, unordered, unorganized, unplain, unsorted, unspecified, unsymmetrical, unsystematic, ununiform, ur, vague, veiled, wandering
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