helpless

adjective
help·​less | \ ˈhel-pləs How to pronounce helpless (audio) ; 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

One region that was more active in helpless mice was the locus coeruleus. Andrew Reiner, Washington Post, "Life’s stresses often sink me. Here’s how I decided to change that.," 4 Feb. 2018 Young, who often looks helpless when defenses swarm around him, needs shooters. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "As the Warriors go their way, the big men multiply," 23 June 2018 Why did McCall, who loved nothing more than brutalizing and convicting African-Americans, decide to railroad a helpless white man who clearly had nothing to do with the crime? Douglas Perry, OregonLive.com, "Pride, prejudice make injustice inevitable in brutal 1950s Florida: 'Beneath a Ruthless Sun' review," 27 Apr. 2018 Day after day left me feeling sad, worried, angry — and helpless. Paula Spencer Scott, Woman's Day, "I Participated in a Clinical Study to See if I Had Dementia — Here's What I Learned," 26 Mar. 2019 Frankly, a lot of us feel sort of helpless to do anything about the chaos around here. Jon Kamp, WSJ, "Impeachment Plan for Fairfax Drafted in Virginia," 10 Feb. 2019 Through these examples, the exhibit illustrates how survivors can often feel helpless about the circumstances that led to their assault. CNN, "Sexual assault survivors are reclaiming the words used to discredit them: 'What were you wearing?'," 16 Apr. 2018 Get free access to your airline’s website while in flight Few things are more frustrating than being on a flight with a tight connection and being helpless to do anything about it until you land. Eric Jordan, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do When Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed," 20 Nov. 2018 Our press seems increasingly helpless in the face of evidence-free red herrings aimed at its erogenous zones. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Suddenly, Bezos Is Media’s Hero," 12 Feb. 2019

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

22 May 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 How to pronounce helpless (audio) \

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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