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The absence of legal ability, competence, or qualifications.

An individual incapacitated by infancy, for example, does not have the legal ability to enter into certain types of agreements, such as marriage or contracts.

Under provisions of Workers' Compensation laws, the term incapacity refers to the inability to find and retain employment due to a disease or injury that prevents the performance of the customary duties of a worker.


adj. 1) not being able to perform any gainful employment due to congenital disability, illness (including mental), physical injury, advanced age, or intellectual deficiency. This is significant in claims for workmen's compensation, disability insurance, or Social Security claims under "SSI." 2) lacking the ability to understand one's actions in making a will, executing some other document, or entering into an agreement. A challenge to the validity of a will often turns on a claim that the person (now dead and unable to testify) lacked the capacity to understand what he/she owned, who were the "natural objects of his/her bounty" (close relatives primarily), that no one was able to dominate the testator's (will writer's) judgment so as to exert "undue influence." Mental weakness may show lack of capacity to make a will, as can fear, intimidation, or persistent drunkenness. Example: an old lady is kept well supplied with whiskey for several months by her greedy sisters, who finally convince her to change the will from benefitting her children to benefitting them, when she is blotto and fearful they will cut off her supply. A court would probably find she had lacked capacity to decide to make the latest version of the will. (See: incompetent)


noun adynamy, anility, caducity, disablement, disenablement, disqualification, dotage, failure, feebleness, helplessness, impotence, impuissance, inability, inadequacy, inaptitude, incapability, incompetence, incompetency, incomprehension, inefficacy, inefficiency, ineptitude, infirmity, lack of caaacity, lack of fitness, lack of power, morosis, unfitness, unproficiency, unskillfulness, weakness
Associated concepts: disability, incapacity for work, incapaccty to sue, legal incapacity, mental incapacity, permanent incapacity, physical incapacity, total incapacity
See also: abortion, disability, disqualification, fault, frustration, ignorance, impotence, impuissance, inability, incompetence, inefficacy

INCAPACITY. The want of a quality legally to do, give, transmit, or receive something.
     2. It arises from nature, from the law, or from both. From nature, when the party has not his senses, as, in the case of an idiot; from the law, as, in the case of a bastard who cannot inherit from nature and the law; as, in the case of a married woman, who cannot make contracts or a will.
     3. In general, the incapacity ceases with the cause which produces it. If the idiot should obtain his senses, or the married woman's husband die, their incapacity would be at an end.
     4. When a cause of action arises during the incapacity of a person having the right to sue, the act of limitation does not, in general, commence to run till the incapacity has been removed. But two incapacities cannot be joined in order to come within the statute.

References in classic literature ?
How sincere and confidential we can be, saying all that lies in the mind, and yet go away feeling that all is yet unsaid, from the incapacity of the parties to know each other, although they use the same words
It's awfully difficult to tell about women," he continued, "how much, I mean, is due to lack of training, and how much is native incapacity.
Adoring her husband's virtues, she had very early made up her mind to his incapacity of minding his own interests, and had met the consequences cheerfully.
He wrote that he felt his weakness and incapacity to struggle against temptation without his help and penitently confessed his sin of pride.
Such were the thoughts maturing in Rabourdin's mind ever since his promised place had been given to Monsieur de la Billardiere, a man of sheer incapacity.
His answers have a sophistical ring, and at the same time show the sophistical incapacity to grasp a general notion.
With respect to the almost universal sterility of species when first crossed, which forms so remarkable a contrast with the almost universal fertility of varieties when crossed, I must refer the reader to the recapitulation of the facts given at the end of the eighth chapter, which seem to me conclusively to show that this sterility is no more a special endowment than is the incapacity of two trees to be grafted together, but that it is incidental on constitutional differences in the reproductive systems of the intercrossed species.
He was but a man, and the incapacity to achieve anything distinctly good or evil is inherent in our earthly condition.
Clare has been accused of incapacity on this occasion; I can at least testify that this action, properly understood, was one of the most brilliant and sagacious of his life.
If a man dogmatize in a mixed company on Providence and the divine laws, he is answered by a silence which conveys well enough to an observer the dissatisfaction of the hearer, but his incapacity to make his own statement.
He had not long ruminated on these matters, before it occurred to his memory that he had a brother who was under no such unhappy incapacity.
Even as I tell it to you, you don't realize it, you won't realize it--and that very incapacity to realize it is one of the reasons why you are so loved.