Dictionary.com lists these words as related to articulate:

Related forms
ar·tic·u·la·ble [ahr-tik-yuh-luh-buhl] /ɑrˈtɪk yə lə bəl/, adjective
ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverb
ar·tic·u·late·ness, ar·tic·u·la·cy [ahr-tik-yuh-luh-see] /ɑrˈtɪk yə lə si/, noun
ar·tic·u·la·tive [ahr-tik-yuh-ley-tiv, -luh-tiv] /ɑrˈtɪk yəˌleɪ tɪv, -lə tɪv/, adjective
mis·ar·tic·u·late, verb, mis·ar·tic·u·lat·ed, mis·ar·tic·u·lat·ing.
mul·ti·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
non·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
non·ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverb
non·ar·tic·u·late·ness, noun
non·ar·tic·u·la·tive, adjective
o·ver·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
o·ver·ar·tic·u·late, verb, o·ver·ar·tic·u·lat·ed, o·ver·ar·tic·u·lat·ing.
pre·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
pseu·do·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
pseu·do·ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverb
re·ar·tic·u·late, verb, re·ar·tic·u·lat·ed, re·ar·tic·u·lat·ing.
sem·i·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
sem·i·ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverb
sub·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
sub·ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverb
sub·ar·tic·u·late·ness, noun
sub·ar·tic·u·la·tive, adjective
un·ar·tic·u·late, adjective
un·ar·tic·u·late·ly, adverb
un·ar·tic·u·la·tive, adjective

Interestingly it does not list inarticulate. As a native English speaker simply guessing I'd say the differences are,

  • "nonarticulate": not speaking at all
  • "unarticulate": not speaking understandably
  • "inarticulate": saying something, but not in an understandable way
  • "misarticulate": saying something understandable, but with a meaning other than intended

Are these close to the actual nuances?

  • 3
    If you at least Google these, you'll find that 2/4 of them are not actual words. Oct 21, 2018 at 14:51
  • There are too many things to mention. All your words are recognised by dictionaries except for "nonarticulate". However you can add a hyphen after "non" if you want. The only verb you have I think is "misarticulate". "unarticulate" is recognised by Collins. Some dictionaries define these various words strictly in terms of speech, others define it in its more general sense, which has many meanings. If you understand those prefixes, non-, un-, in-, mis-, you should understand.
    – Zebrafish
    Oct 21, 2018 at 15:46
  • The Ngram indicates that only one word is being used by English speakers - inarticulate. To use the others would be an example of this trait.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 21, 2018 at 16:09
  • Then why did the publishers of Dictionary.com use it? Oct 21, 2018 at 16:28
  • 1
    I edited your question to add a reference to Dictionary.com's definition of articulate. This will help convey what you're asking. Oct 21, 2018 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


Looking at the definition of articulate at Dictionary.com, the only antonym that it lists is inarticulate. The other three "words" are instead listed under "related forms."

This is the definition of articulated at Oxford Dictionaries:

1 Having two or more sections connected by a flexible joint.
an articulated lorry
the trilobite's thorax has a variable number of articulated segments

2 (of an idea or feeling) expressed; put into words.
one of the first articulated emotions that you will hear from a child
the lack of a clearly articulated policy

If I then look at Oxford's definitions of words that most closely match those given by Dictionary.com, I see the following:


Not articulated; specifically having no joints, not jointed.

No doubt you could use the non- prefix and apply it to the second sense of articulated if you wished (something not expressed), but it's not common enough to have been given its own negated sense by Oxford.


Not mentioned or coherently expressed.
previously unarticulated anger

Note that this definition includes not being expressed (mentioned) at all as well as as being expressed but only incoherently.

There is no sense of not having any joints.


1 Unable to express one's ideas or feelings clearly or easily.
an inarticulate man of action

1.1 Not clearly expressed or pronounced.
Fay gave a faint, inarticulate cry

1.2 Not expressed in words.
mention of her mother filled her with inarticulate irritation

2 Without joints or articulations.

2.1 Zoology Denoting a brachiopod in which the valves of the shell have no hinge and are held together by muscles.

This definition includes all of the previous (negative) senses we've seen: not speaking at all, speaking but not understandably, and not having any joints.


Inability to articulate correctly; faulty articulation (especially of vocal sounds); an instance of this.

This definition, like unarticulated, lacks a sense that is applicable to joints.

In short, none of the definitions given by Oxford exactly match the assumptions you had about the words.

What I find interesting is that while one of the senses of articulated is to express something in words—it does not mean to express it clearly or coherently in words. Instead, as in the phrase clearly articulated, we supply an adjective.

However, when we use inarticulate (or a synonymous word), there is no need to use an adjective with it. So, in some senses (pun intended), the antonym can be more specific.

  • Interesting. You'd think Dictionary.com would separate out the joint articulation definition from the coherent speech one. Their entry, indeed, is inarticulate. Oct 21, 2018 at 17:29
  • 1
    @RubelliteFae To be fair, they do list it under the verb and noun headings, as well as under British and Medicine sections at the bottom of the page. But the synonyms and antonyms seem focused on only a single sense . . . Oct 21, 2018 at 17:40

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