helpless

adjective
help·​less | \ ˈhel-pləs ; Southern often ˈhep-ləs also ˈheəp-\

Definition of helpless

1 : lacking protection or support : defenseless as helpless as a flock of shepherdless sheep— W. H. Mallock
2a : marked by an inability to act or react the crowd looked on in helpless horrorCurrent Biography
b : not able to be controlled or restrained helpless laughter

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Other Words from helpless

helplessly adverb
helplessness noun

Examples of helpless in a Sentence

The civilians were helpless against their attackers. Firefighters were helpless against the blaze. I feel helpless. Isn't there anything I can do? The crowd was helpless with laughter. He was helpless with rage.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Last year, one whipped a kayaker with a helpless octopus and then swam away before anyone was the wiser. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Leopard Seal Poops Out USB Drive, Confusing Scientists," 5 Feb. 2019 Equally important, the option gives women the choice to direct their own treatment plan, granting them a sense of power in what used to feel like a helpless situation. Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, "Cobie Smulders Opens Up About Her Battle With Ovarian Cancer," 1 Nov. 2018 Gomez, the Rays’ right fielder, unleashed his frustration on a helpless water cooler inside the Tampa Bay dugout on Wednesday afternoon, bashing it five times with his bat. Matthew Defranks, Sun-Sentinel.com, "A Closer Look: Miami Marlins 3, Tampa Bay Rays 0," 4 July 2018 My one lasting imposition on the helpless cupboards and mantels of my pals is porcelain. Sally Singer, Vogue, "10 Holiday Gifts That Dazzle, Then Largely Disappear," 29 Nov. 2018 One is that the rise of machine learning and improved data collection techniques has created a dystopian panopticon in which all of us have become helpless pawns of late capitalism. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How WhatsApp is undermining Facebook’s war on election interference," 19 Oct. 2018 Beneath all of them was a solitary, helpless photographer, swept off his feet by Croatia’s celebrations. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Croatia Digs Deeper, Burying England’s World Cup Dreams," 12 July 2018 June follow a memory instead of the real, helpless baby in her arms. Rena Gross, Billboard, "'The Handmaid's Tale': Season 2, Episode 13 Recap: 19 Startling Moments in 'The Word'," 11 July 2018 However, Sevilla's second choice keeper was helpless to stop the visitors taking the lead through Thiago Alcântara. SI.com, "Sevilla 1-2 Bayern Munich: Lucky Bavarians Claim UCL Advantage Against in Andalusia," 3 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'helpless.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of helpless

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for helpless

see help entry 1

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Statistics for helpless

Last Updated

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for helpless

The first known use of helpless was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for helpless

helpless

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of helpless

: not protected : not able to defend yourself
: unable to do something to make a situation, task, etc., better or easier
: not able to be controlled

helpless

adjective
help·​less | \ ˈhelp-ləs \

Kids Definition of helpless

: without help or defense a helpless infant

Other Words from helpless

helplessly adverb
helplessness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on helpless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for helpless

Spanish Central: Translation of helpless

Nglish: Translation of helpless for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of helpless for Arabic Speakers

Comments on helpless

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