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See also: incohérence



From in- +‎ coherence, formed on model of Italian incoerenza.[1]


  • IPA(key): /ˌɪnkəʊˈhɪəɹəns/


incoherence (countable and uncountable, plural incoherences)

  1. (uncountable) The quality of being incoherent.
    1. The quality of not making logical sense or of not being logically connected.
      • 1599, Thomas Bilson, The Effect of Certaine Sermons Touching the Full Redemption of Mankind by the Death and Bloud of Christ Jesus[1], London: Walter Burre, page 145:
        HE DESCENDED, signifieth a voluntarie motion, where as the bodie dead hath neither WILL nor MOTION. [] Though therefore this exposition cannot be charged with falsitie, for Christ was trulie buried; yet may it not bee endured by reason of [] the improprietie and incoherence of the worde, that a deade corps should descend []
      • 1680, Henry Care, The History of the Damnable Popish Plot, London: B.R. et al., Chapter 23, Section 2, p. 327,[2]
        [] the said Lane is prevailed with [] to prefer an Indictment against Dr. Oates, for attempting to commit upon him the horrid and detestable sin of Sodomy; but the Grand Jury, by reason of the incoherence and slightness of his Evidence, did not think fit to finde it, but returned an Ignoramus.
      • 1872, George Eliot, chapter 70, in Middlemarch[3]:
        Bulstrode went away now without anxiety as to what Raffles might say in his raving, which had taken on a muttering incoherence not likely to create any dangerous belief.
      • 1905, Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth[4], Book 2, Chapter 10:
        Lily’s head was so heavy with the weight of a sleepless night that the chatter of her companions had the incoherence of a dream.
      • 2002, Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex[5], New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Book 2, p. 99:
        My grandfather, accustomed to the multifarious conjugations of ancient Greek verbs, had found English, for all its incoherence, a relatively simple tongue to master.
    2. (obsolete) The quality of not holding together physically.
      • 1669, Robert Boyle, “The History of Fluidity and Firmness,” Section 16, in Certain Physiological Essays and Other Tracts, London: Henry Herringman, p. 182,[6]
        [] if it [Salt-Petre] be beaten into an impalpable powder, this powder, when it is pour’d out, will emulate a Liquor, by reason that the smallness and incoherence of the parts do both make them easie to be put into motion []
  2. (countable) Something incoherent; something that does not make logical sense or is not logically connected.
  3. (psychiatry) Thinking or speech that is so disorganized that it is essentially inapprehensible to others.




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024), “incoherence”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.