pow·​er·​less | \ ˈpau̇(-ə)r-ləs How to pronounce powerless (audio) \

Definition of powerless

1 : devoid of strength or resources powerless victims
2 : lacking the authority or capacity to act was powerless to help

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Other Words from powerless

powerlessly adverb
powerlessness noun

Examples of powerless in a Sentence

I wish I could help you, but I am powerless in this situation.

Recent Examples on the Web

Turns out that navigating a powerless balloon through the stratosphere is like using a road network where streets change directions and speed limits, or disappear altogether. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Self-Parking Garages, Robovans, and More Car News This Week," 28 July 2019 Russian officials are watching closely…and might be feeling a little powerless. Ian Bremmer, Time, "Sweeping Political Change in Ukraine Heralds Hope for the Future," 25 July 2019 Some numbers: The storms knocked out power to 3,000 of the Pepco utility’s customers while 4,700 customers in Northern Virginia had their power knocked out by the weekend storms with some of them still powerless on Monday. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Hey Bay Area residents, be glad you’re not in these places this week," 22 July 2019 Svitolina, seeded eighth here at Wimbledon and playing in her first grand slam semifinal, put up more of a fight in the second set but was powerless against the Romanian's thundering ground strokes. Matias Grez, CNN, "Serena Williams to face Simona Halep in Wimbledon final," 11 July 2019 A few weeks later another stranger, who became a friend, removed those stitches in a powerless salt hotel in Bolivia, while yet another new acquaintance held a flashlight. Denise Rehrig, Glamour, "I Was at the Top of My Career. Then I Quit My Job to Travel the World for 13 Months," 12 June 2019 When the movie came out 12 years ago, pre–social media, assistants who had experienced emotional abuse were virtually powerless to do anything about it. Amy Odell, The Cut, "In Fashion, Verbal Abuse Is Going Out of Style," 18 June 2018 Roberts said that although federal courts should not be involved, voters were not powerless to stop partisan gerrymandering. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "U.S. Supreme Court rejects limits to partisan gerrymandering," 27 June 2019 If there are bright spots, one is that the courts have continued to play their historic role of checking the government, sticking up for the powerless and vulnerable. Lee Gelernt, The New York Review of Books, "Lee Gelernt," 19 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'powerless.' 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 powerless

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for powerless

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for powerless

The first known use of powerless was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for powerless



English Language Learners Definition of powerless

: having no power : unable to do something or to stop something


pow·​er·​less | \ ˈpau̇-ər-ləs How to pronounce powerless (audio) \

Kids Definition of powerless

: without power, strength, authority, or influence He was powerless to stop them.

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More from Merriam-Webster on powerless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for powerless

Spanish Central: Translation of powerless

Nglish: Translation of powerless for Spanish Speakers

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