in·​con·​ti·​nence | \ (ˌ)in-ˈkän-tə-nən(t)s How to pronounce incontinence (audio) \

Definition of incontinence

: the quality or state of being incontinent We may reasonably trust … that public sobriety will reassert itself over the political and intellectual incontinence that currently commands the headlines.— Woody West : such as
a : inability of the body to control the evacuative functions of urination or defecation : partial or complete loss of bladder or bowel control fecal incontinence urinary incontinence — see also stress incontinence, urge incontinence
b : failure to restrain sexual appetite It is true that the religion of the missionaries has … effected some good. It has restrained the vices of theft and incontinence.— Herman Melville

Examples of incontinence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The most common symptoms in pets exposed to cannabis included disorientation, lethargy, abnormal or uncoordinated movements such as swaying, lowered heart rate and urinary incontinence. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 20 Apr. 2022 Homeless people in their 50s are showing geriatric symptoms: difficulty dressing and bathing, visual and hearing problems, urinary incontinence. New York Times, 18 Apr. 2022 But emotional incontinence doesn't cure anything except warmth, trust and peace of mind. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 At what point does Joe Biden’s verbal incontinence start to become a mortal threat to Americans? Gerard Baker, WSJ, 28 Mar. 2022 Two University Hospital physicians — Dr. Adonis Hijaz and and Dr. Goutham Rao — have received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to find ways to improve care of women with urinary incontinence. Julie Washington, cleveland, 15 Mar. 2022 Approximately 500 of these men died from the treatment and 375,000 experienced long-term erectile dysfunction, 112,000 experienced long-term urinary incontinence, and 84,000 had trouble controlling their bowels. David Ropeik, STAT, 28 Feb. 2022 It’s the first foray into the reusable period and incontinence underwear category for the company, which is behind Kleenex tissues, Huggies diapers, and Kotex feminine products. Tiffany Ap, Quartz, 27 Feb. 2022 Fecal incontinence requires a thorough evaluation to determine the possible cause. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 7 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of incontinence

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Dictionary Entries Near incontinence

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Last Updated

25 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incontinence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for incontinence


in·​con·​ti·​nence | \ (ˈ)in-ˈkänt-ᵊn-ən(t)s How to pronounce incontinence (audio) \

Medical Definition of incontinence

1 : inability or failure to restrain sexual appetite
2 : inability of the body to control the evacuative functions fecal incontinence — see stress incontinence, urge incontinence


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