im·​po·​tent | \ ˈim-pə-tənt How to pronounce impotent (audio) \

Definition of impotent

1a : not potent : lacking in power, strength, or vigor : helpless
b : unable to engage in sexual intercourse because of inability to have and maintain an erection broadly : sterile
2 obsolete : incapable of self-restraint : ungovernable

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from impotent

impotent noun
impotently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for impotent



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

A police department may be impotent to stop the flow of drugs into a neighborhood. A group of countries may be impotent to force another country to change its human-rights policies. The impotence of a prime minister may be shown by her inability to get an important piece of legislation passed. Impotent and impotence may also have a special meaning, when they refer to a man's inability to have sexual intercourse.

Examples of impotent in a Sentence

an impotent ruler who was just a figurehead
Recent Examples on the Web Among the false assertions in wide circulation are that the vaccines make people impotent, are worthless because some vaccinated people become infected, or even lead to death. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, 19 May 2021 When June confronts her about it, Mrs. Keyes confides that the impotent Commander Keyes invites other Gilead men over to rape her in hopes of having a child. Amanda Ostuni,, 28 Apr. 2021 But leaky goaltending, an impotent power play, scoring droughts and simply too many nights off mentally cost them. Ross Mckeon, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Apr. 2021 While some of his ministers still live in Yemen, Hadi remains holed up in Riyadh, a mostly impotent encumbrance to his backers, his value limited to his (unopposed) election, and the aura of democracy that confers on his government. Nic Robertson, Nada Bashir And Charbel Mallo, CNN, 23 Apr. 2021 The Stars have been famously impotent in overtime this season, going 1-6 in games that end in overtime (plus 2-6 in shootouts). Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, 21 Apr. 2021 Cassie pursues the vigilante justice the trailer promises, but her attempts feel oddly impotent. Jenny Singer, Glamour, 20 Apr. 2021 The problem is clear—substantial government reforms in the face of impotent majority opposition can destabilize a democracy. David French, Time, 23 Mar. 2021 Then, with the click of a button, the original data can be immediately rolled back to its pre-attack state, essentially rendering ransomware threats impotent. Yuen Pin Yeap, Forbes, 3 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of impotent

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for impotent

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin impotent-, impotens, from in- + potent-, potens potent

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about impotent

Time Traveler for impotent

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for impotent

Last Updated

2 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impotent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for impotent



English Language Learners Definition of impotent

: lacking power or strength
of a man : unable to have sex : unable to get or keep an erection


im·​po·​tent | \ ˈim-pə-tənt How to pronounce impotent (audio) \

Kids Definition of impotent

: lacking in power, ability, or strength an impotent medicine


im·​po·​tent | \ ˈim-pət-ənt How to pronounce impotent (audio) \

Medical Definition of impotent

1 : not potent an impotent vaccine
2 : unable to engage in sexual intercourse because of inability to have and maintain an erection broadly : sterile

More from Merriam-Webster on impotent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impotent

Nglish: Translation of impotent for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!