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 '11 at 20:49
  • 2
    Er, 'cannot' ? (According to Webster 1913) – jbelacqua Apr 1 '11 at 21:49
  • 1
    @Chris: why exactly do you want a single word? Just curiosity, or is there some practical reason? – PLL Apr 1 '11 at 22:20
  • 1
    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 – Chris Marisic Apr 2 '11 at 2:13
  • 1
    @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 '11 at 2:21

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. – Chris Marisic Apr 2 '11 at 2:13
  • 2
    Some synonyms: Resist, Deny – mplungjan Jun 1 '11 at 16:37
  • Deny is also a very good word here. – Chris Marisic Jun 16 '11 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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.