in·​con·​ti·​nence | \(ˌ)in-ˈkän-tə-nən(t)s \

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

As dangerous as botulinum is, precise medical applications in tiny doses — best known as Botox — can treat several conditions, including incontinence, strabismus (crossed eyes) and, of course, wrinkles. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Poison," 25 Sep. 2018 Bø said there is strong evidence that training the pelvic girdle can help with urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Elissa Strauss, CNN, "The enduring mystery of the postpartum pooch," 4 May 2018 But a new study suggests that some classes of anticholinergic drugs -- particularly those used to treat depression, Parkinson's and urinary incontinence -- carry a higher risk than others. Mark Lieber, CNN, "Certain common medications tied to 30% higher dementia risk, study finds," 25 Apr. 2018 During his trial, Asahara often used diapers and sat on a cushion intended to make his incontinence inconspicuous. Washington Post, "Cult leader executed for Japan sarin attacks still a mystery," 6 July 2018 Risks include the possible side effects of further diagnostic tests and treatment such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction, as well as the psychological effects of a false diagnosis. Mark Lieber, CNN, "Prostate cancer screening recommendations get rolled back by US task force," 8 May 2018 Even tips on how to reduce the odor from incontinence are offered with a loving laugh. Blake Farmer, Washington Post, "Support Circle: Family Caregivers Share Stories And Tips To Ease Alzheimer’s Toll," 11 July 2018 There usually is a small amount of urine with each void with no pain with urination, incontinence, or change in urine appearance. Daniel R. Taylor,, "Medical Mystery: Kids who can't stop going," 1 June 2018 Prostate cancer surgery in particular can have severe results, including incontinence and impotence. Steven Petrow, Washington Post, "Watching but not treating cancer can be hard. Sometimes it’s the right approach.," 20 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of incontinence

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

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

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More Definitions for incontinence


in·​con·​ti·​nence | \(ˈ)in-ˈkänt-ᵊn-ən(t)s \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on incontinence

Spanish Central: Translation of incontinence

Nglish: Translation of incontinence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incontinence for Arabic Speakers

Comments on incontinence

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living or existing for a long time

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