I'm looking for a single word to use instead of can't or won't.

(Single also meaning no hyphenation or conjunctions/contractions. The differences between the words in regard to being unable to vs. being unwilling to can be ignored)

Edit: Some background into this question, when writing Unit Tests in C# I have found it very easy to misread method names that differ solely based on Can vs Cannot. Since many times a unit test will exist with both the pro and contra side. Contractions aren't acceptable for the fact ' is not an allowed character in a method name.

  • 1
    Do you want one word to replace each of "can't" AND "won't" or are you looking for a single word to replace "can't / won't"?
    – oosterwal
    Apr 1, 2011 at 20:49
  • 2
    Er, 'cannot' ? (According to Webster 1913)
    – jbelacqua
    Apr 1, 2011 at 21:49
  • 1
    @Chris: why exactly do you want a single word? Just curiosity, or is there some practical reason?
    – PLL
    Apr 1, 2011 at 22:20
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    C# test method names, can't use ' in names, and I find methods that differentiate solely by can vs can not are too hard to distinguish Apr 2, 2011 at 2:13
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    @Chris: Please put the C# bit in the description. Knowing how you will be using the word helps us find the best ones. :)
    – MrHen
    Apr 2, 2011 at 2:21

3 Answers 3


I refuse works in place of I won't.

  • Refuse is a good one! Even better since it has accepts as it's antonym and both words are very fitting for programming. Apr 2, 2011 at 2:13
  • 2
    Some synonyms: Resist, Deny
    – mplungjan
    Jun 1, 2011 at 16:37
  • Deny is also a very good word here. Jun 16, 2011 at 20:09

Cannot? Or are you counting that as a compound word?

If you won’t take that, then I’m unable to suggest another. It would be unfeasible for a language to have one-word synonyms for every concept; I suspect it’s impossible to find another for cannot/can’t/won’t in English.


can't can be replaced with "unable" depending on context. Though, to be fair, this often requires words to be added elsewhere in the sentence.


I can't do that. -> I am unable to do that.

EDIT: Just saw that you put "unable" in the question. Oh well. CW'd it just in case anyone finds it useful.

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