impuissant

adjective

im·​puis·​sant (ˌ)im-ˈpwi-sᵊnt How to pronounce impuissant (audio)
(ˌ)im-ˈpyü-ə-sənt;
ˌim-pyü-ˈi-sᵊnt

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Both the adjective "impuissant" and the noun "impuissance" came to English from Middle French. They are derived from the prefix in- (meaning "not") and the noun "puissance," which means "power" and is a word in English in its own right. Puissance derives from the verb poer, meaning "to be able or "to be powerful," and is ultimately related to the same Latin roots that gave us words such as "power" and "potent." While both "puissant" and "impuissance" first appeared in English during the 15th century, "impuissant" did not make its first appearance in our language until 1629.

Examples of impuissant in a Sentence

claims that such restrictions on military interventions on foreign soil would render the nation an impuissant giant on the world stage
Recent Examples on the Web The failsafe option of fake news Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the impuissant opposition, settled down in a comfortable chair, and readied himself for his regular, televised roasting. Isobel Thompson, The Hive, 5 Apr. 2017 The failsafe option of fake news Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the impuissant opposition, settled down in a comfortable chair, and readied himself for his regular, televised roasting. Isobel Thompson, The Hive, 5 Apr. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'impuissant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

French

First Known Use

1629, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of impuissant was in 1629

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Dictionary Entries Near impuissant

Cite this Entry

“Impuissant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impuissant. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

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