im·​pair | \im-ˈper \
impaired; impairing; impairs

Definition of impair 

transitive verb

: to diminish in function, ability, or quality : to weaken or make worse It has been known for nearly 100 years that memory is impaired by bilateral damage to either of two brain regions …— Larry R. Squire The use of drugs further complicates the situation of these families and sometimes impairs their ability to raise children.— Ellen L. Bassuk … the prospect of generating normal profitability is impaired by excessive debt service.— John Nozell The physician also checks for signs of endometriosis, a condition in which the cells that normally compose the uterine lining grow outside the uterus, sometimes impairing fertility.— Martha Southgate

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Other Words from impair

impairer noun
… the overwhelming majority of hookups involved alcohol use—an impairer of sexual judgment if ever there was one … — Tiffany Sharples
impairment \ im-​ˈper-​mənt \ noun
Persons with hearing impairments can now get information about local parks and their facilities by calling the recently installed TDD phone numbers within the Parks Department. Maryland Magazine

Choose the Right Synonym for impair

injure, harm, hurt, damage, impair, mar mean to affect injuriously. injure implies the inflicting of anything detrimental to one's looks, comfort, health, or success. badly injured in an accident harm often stresses the inflicting of pain, suffering, or loss. careful not to harm the animals hurt implies inflicting a wound to the body or to the feelings. hurt by their callous remarks damage suggests injury that lowers value or impairs usefulness. a table damaged in shipping impair suggests a making less complete or efficient by deterioration or diminution. years of smoking had impaired his health mar applies to injury that spoils perfection (as of a surface) or causes disfigurement. the text is marred by many typos

Examples of impair in a Sentence

Smoking can impair your health. Drinking impairs a person's ability to think clearly. His memory was so impaired by age that he often forgot where he was.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The hospital has said Levy was twice found to be impaired on duty and consequently terminated him in April. Hannah Grabenstein, Fox News, "Former VA pathologist denies being impaired on duty," 10 July 2018 The hospital has said Levy was twice found to be impaired on duty and consequently terminated him in April. Washington Post, "Former VA pathologist denies being impaired on duty," 9 July 2018 The hospital has said Levy was twice found to be impaired on duty and consequently terminated him in April. Hannah Grabenstein, The Seattle Times, "Former VA pathologist denies being impaired on duty," 9 July 2018 At this level, net shareholder payouts don’t appear to impair investment capacity. Jesse M. Fried And, WSJ, "The Real Problem With Stock Buybacks," 6 July 2018 Hassel was apprehended during an impaired-driving enforcement detail paid for by a Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program grant, police said. Staff Report, Daily Southtown, "Southland police blotter," 12 June 2018 In response, some opponents have splurged on defensive wings or rim-protecting bigs—impairing their future flexibility in the process. Rob Mahoney,, "LeBron James Defies Logic and the NBA Life Cycle," 28 May 2018 Zalewski said the driver was not impaired and the incident had nothing to do with construction. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Driver, toddler escaped from car stuck on railroad tracks in Wauwatosa minutes before train crash," 28 June 2018 Police initially determined that Vasquez was not impaired after giving her a field test. NBC News, "Backup driver in deadly autonomous crash was streaming TV show, police report says," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impair.' 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 impair

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for impair

Middle English empeiren, from Anglo-French empeirer, from Vulgar Latin *impejorare, from Latin in- + Late Latin pejorare to make worse — more at pejorative

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Statistics for impair

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impair

The first known use of impair was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for impair



Financial Definition of impairment

What It Is

The term impairment refers to assets that are no longer of the same value as in a prior period. An impairment charge is used and the asset is revalued downward and a "charge" is made to net assets.

How It Works

Impairment normally happens when the value of a company's goodwill declines in market value. Since the advent of FAS (Financial Accounting Standards) 141 and 142, the amortization of goodwill is no longer required, however periodic and annual impairment tests are now necessary. This can work both ways. The goodwill (asset) will stay on the books of the company indefinitely which helps EPS but if there is a market downturn on these assets, a write-down of the value of the asset (impairment charge) will be required which has immediate impact on the income of the company.

For example;

Goodwill Asset  Value (Year 0) $4,000,000

Impairment Test Results Value (Year 1) $3,000,000

Income Statement Impact/ Impairment Charge $1,000,000

Why It Matters

Under US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), tests of impairment are required annually. Thus, an internal control procedure must be established within companies that potentially have such exposure to ensure they are abiding by US GAAP. Failure to do so risks a qualified or adverse opinion from the companies’ auditors.

Source: Investing Answers


im·​pair | \im-ˈper \
impaired; impairing

Kids Definition of impair

: to make less (as in quantity, value, or strength) or worse : damage Smoking can impair your health.

im·​pair | \im-ˈpa(ə)r, -ˈpe(ə)r \

Medical Definition of impair 

: to damage or make worse by or as if by diminishing in some material respect his health was impaired by overwork

Other Words from impair

impairment \ -​ˈpa(ə)r-​mənt \ noun

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im·​pair | \im-ˈper \

Legal Definition of impair 

1 : to damage or make worse by or as if by diminishing impaired health

2 : to diminish the value of (property or property rights) specifically : to diminish the value of (legal contractual obligations) to the point that a party loses the benefit of the contract or the contract otherwise becomes invalid a law impairing a state's own obligations was entitled to less deference — Gerald Gunther — see also contract clause

Other Words from impair

impairment noun

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Comments on impair

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by force of circumstances

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