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

On the other hand, Dr. Piliang says, people with extremely dry or sensitive skin, or inflammatory skin conditions where the lipid barrier is already impaired—like psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea—might find daily showers too dehydrating and irritating. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "How Often Should You Really Shower?," 10 Jan. 2019 For the visually impaired, Big Apple hires professionals to offer detailed audio descriptions, supplied via headphones, of all the action in the circus’s single ring. Charles Passy, WSJ, "Big Apple Circus Performs for Children With Visual, Hearing Impairments," 6 Dec. 2018 Studies have shown that when people are given positive reinforcement before a challenge, DHEA levels outweigh those of cortisol, which is associated with negative responses such as impaired immune function and even depression. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Now, Experts Say Stress Can Be Good for Your Health—Really," 18 Dec. 2018 If the Justices duck every case remotely implicating gender politics, substantive constitutional issues will go unresolved and individual rights may be impaired. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Behind the Supreme Court’s Dodge," 12 Dec. 2018 And going 18 hours without sleep is equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent (which is legally impaired) and puts you at equal risk for a crash. Yvette D'entremont, SELF, "I'm a Scientist With Insomnia So I Researched How to Actually Get Better Sleep," 28 Nov. 2018 Alcohol consumption above moderate levels may also impair a mother’s judgment and ability to safely care for her child. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Jessie James Decker Doesn't Care What Critics Think About Her Drinking While Breastfeeding," 12 Sep. 2018 As such, observers at northern latitudes will never see the planet very high in the sky, so atmospheric turbulence will impair the view more than usual. Joe Rao,, "Mars Makes Its Closest Approach in 15 Years This Summer: How to See It," 29 May 2018 Bashaw was examined at the scene and it was determined that he was not impaired, Enriquez said. Nathan J. Fish, azcentral, "MCSO: Driver in fatal Fountain Hills crash was speeding, using phone," 11 July 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

19 Jan 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on impair

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impair

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impair

Spanish Central: Translation of impair

Nglish: Translation of impair for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impair for Arabic Speakers

Comments on impair

What made you want to look up impair? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a complex dispute or argument

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