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She becomes inarticulate when she’s nervous.
  unable to communicate clearly (or to use words) in various senses such as:
  • unable to find good words to express oneself — "She gets nervous and inarticulate whenever he’s around."
  • verbally expressing a feeling without words — "She uttered an inarticulate cry of despair."
  • unable to make oneself heard and understood — "She mumbled inarticulately."
  • unable to speak — "She was inarticulate with rage."

or (more rarely): a feeling or idea that is not expressed — as in "We shared an inarticulate fear."
 Mark word for later review on this computer
inarticulate inarticulateness inarticulately
More rarely, inarticulate can be used to describe poor expression in non-verbal areas. For example someone who does not acknowledge or understand their own emotions might be described as "emotionally inarticulate." Similarly,  the composer of a symphony might find her work described as inarticulate if a critic thought that it was not clear what feelings the symphony was supposed to invoke.

Standard prefix:  in- at the beginning of a word often means "not" as in incorrect or independent. So, inadvisable means not articulate.
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  • She becomes inarticulate when she’s nervous.
  • She seemed uninformed and inarticulate compared to her opponent in the debate.
  • She said she had been inarticulate when she answered the question and that her critics are taking her answer out of context.
  • "We could be sort of…" Simon became inarticulate in his effort to express mankind’s essential illness.
    William Golding  --  Lord of the Flies

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  • A prayer which was half an inarticulate apology to the boy flitted through his mind like a torn rag.
    Stephen King  --  The Shining
  • Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent.
    Toni Morrison  --  The Bluest Eye
  • Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!
    Jon Krakauer  --  Into the Wild
  • Harry uttered an inarticulate yell of rage: In that instant, he cared not whether he lived or died.
    J.K. Rowling  --  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • My hair was sticking in fuzzy curls on my neck, and from the radio in the living room I could hear the inarticulate drone of the baseball game.
    Maureen Daly  --  Seventeenth Summer
  • He poured out on her the sum of all his inarticulate fury and aborted desires.
    Toni Morrison  --  The Bluest Eye

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  • He never beat her, but his pure, inarticulate fury would fill the house for days, weeks, at a time, making the air humid, hard to breathe, my father stalking around with his lower jaw jutting out, giving him the look of a wounded, vengeful boxer, grinding his teeth so loud you could hear it across the room.
    Gillian Flynn  --  Gone Girl
  • Jace stepped forward with an inarticulate growl—and stopped in his tracks, several feet from Sebastian.
    Cassandra Clare  --  City of Heavenly Fire
  • He made an inarticulate gesture.
    Patrick Rothfuss  --  The Name of the Wind
  • Although they talk, they distrust words; one of them, Reg from Saskatchewan, is so inarticulate he’s practically mute, and this wordlessness of his gives him a special status, as if the visual has eaten up part of his brain and left him an idiot saint.
    Margaret Atwood  --  Cat’s Eye
  • I arched upward with an inarticulate sound as exquisitely sensitive tissues were firmly parted in a fresh assault.
    Diana Gabaldon  --  Outlander
  • He was somewhat inarticulate, considering his great command of the English language in print.
    Ayn Rand  --  The Fountainhead
  • His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks.
    Mary Shelley  --  Frankenstein
  • Feebly, without arguments, with nothing to support him except his inarticulate horror of what O’Brien had said, he returned to the attack.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • He only, as I understand, gave an inarticulate cry?
    Arthur Conan Doyle  --  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • This is he; this helpless, inarticulately murmuring, wandering old man pointed out.
    Charles Dickens  --  A Tale of Two Cities
  • The doctor murmured inarticulately, gave a long gasp or two and was still.
    Mark Twain  --  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • I heard inarticulate exclamations on all sides.
    H.G. Wells  --  The War of the Worlds
  • By now inarticulate with sobs, Greta Ohlsson rose and groped her way towards the door.
    Agatha Christie  --  Murder On The Orient Express
  • Joanna inarticulately testified.
    Aldous Huxley  --  Brave New World
  • Then he gave a sort of inarticulate cry, dropped candle and writ together, and went blundering down the dark passage to the stairs.
    H.G. Wells  --  The Invisible Man
  • "Pardon, gentlemen—par—" murmured the voice, which could now only be heard in inarticulate sounds.
    Alexandre Dumas  --  The Three Musketeers
  • How inarticulate can a person be?
    Christopher Paolini  --  Eldest
  • She looked at him as if he were making inarticulate sounds that connected to nothing inside her mind.
    Ayn Rand  --  Atlas Shrugged
  • Fleming snatched the pages from Josh’s hand with an inarticulate cry.
    Micheal Scott  --  The Alchemyst
  • By nature grave and inarticulate, he admired recklessness and gaiety in others and was warmed to the marrow by friendly human intercourse.
    Edith Wharton  --  Ethan Frome
  • His love partook of the nature of worship, dumb, inarticulate, a silent adoration.
    Jack London  --  White Fang
  • Here she burst into uncontrollable grief, and the remainder of her words were inarticulate.
    Emily Bronte  --  Wuthering Heights
  • As if the poor, dumb heart, threatened,—prisoned,—took refuge in that inarticulate sanctuary of music, and found there a language in which to breathe its prayer to God!
    Harriet Beecher Stowe  --  Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Pathetic and inarticulate.
    Eoin Colfer  --  Artemis Fowl
  • "Is it true that I am to be released?" he said, in an almost inarticulate voice, and as though he were talking in his sleep.
    Victor Hugo  --  Les Miserables
  • La Carconte muttered a few inarticulate words, then let her head again drop upon her knees, and went into a fit of ague, leaving the two speakers to resume the conversation, but remaining so as to be able to hear every word they uttered.
    Alexandre Dumas  --  The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The assistant superintendent was so furious that for the first minute he could only splutter inarticulately.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky  --  Crime and Punishment
  • Then you will know the quality of men even if they are inarticulate.
    John Steinbeck  --  East of Eden
  • And then, suddenly, without warning, uttering a cry that was inarticulate and more like the cry of an animal, John Thornton sprang upon the man who wielded the club.
    Jack London  --  The Call of the Wild
  • He continued to shriek and plead, but his words had become inarticulate babble.
    Stephen King  --  Misery
  • THOSE words did not die inarticulate on your lips.
    Charlotte Bronte  --  Jane Eyre
  • I have no doubt they found my second appearance strange enough, coming suddenly out of the quiet darkness with inarticulate noises and the splutter and flare of a match.
    H.G. Wells  --  The Time Machine
  • I did not listen to the next speaker, a tall white man who kept dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief and repeating his phrases in an emotional and inarticulate manner.
    Ralph Ellison  --  Invisible Man
  • At that moment he felt toward Mary and Jan a dumb, cold, and inarticulate hate.
    Richard Wright  --  Native Son
  • It clung round his neck, and burst louder and louder into that mingling of inarticulate cries with "mammy" by which little children express the bewilderment of waking.
    George Eliot  --  Silas Marner
  • Her sobs broke out afresh, and she murmured some inarticulate thanks to me for not having driven her away from the door.
    Charles Dickens  --  David Copperfield
  • He knew he’d had a narrow escape and in later years was fond of talking about "that inarticulate sense for actuality which is our ultimate safeguard against the aberrations of mere logic".
    C.S. Lewis  --  The Screwtape Letters
  • Their faces were like the face of O-lan, inarticulate, dumb.
    Pearl S. Buck  --  The Good Earth
  • ’Please,’ he urged her inarticulately with his arm about her shoulders, recollecting with pained sadness how inarticulate and enfeebled he had felt in the plane coming back from Avignon when Snowden kept whimpering to him that he was cold, he was cold, and all Yossarian could offer him in return was ’There, there.
    Joseph Heller  --  Catch-22
  • The King dropped into inarticulate mumblings, shaking his grey head weakly from time to time, and gropingly trying to recollect what he had done with the Seal.
    Mark Twain  --  The Prince and The Pauper
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Associated words [difficulty]:   inarticulate [3] , articulate [2]
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Most commonly used in these subjects:   Classic Literature, Human Behavior, Logic & Reasoning
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