Incredible vs. Incredulous

How to use "incredible" and "incredulous" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

Incredible literally means “difficult to believe” (and by extension, “amazing”) and is used to describe something external, such as an accomplishment or a claim:

incredible feats of strength

incredible story about the hamster that ate his homework

Incredulous means “skeptical, disbelieving” and should be used to describe a person’s attitude:

incredulous feats of strength

incredulous audience, skeptical about his incredible claims

incredulous teacher laughed at the ridiculous excuse

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.