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 Friedman felt powerless; as if she and her clients were trapped in separate vacuums. Los Angeles Times, "They were battling the psychological toll of the pandemic. Their therapist was, too," 26 Mar. 2021 Such was the case for downtown Denver residents who watched their city burn last May as the Democrat mayor and Governor seemed powerless to stop the riots and subsequent property destruction—including to the state’s capitol complex. Chris Dorsey, Forbes, "America’s Mass Migration Intensifies As ‘Leftugees’ Flee Blue States And Counties For Red," 17 Mar. 2021 That left the agency powerless to stop states from filling in the vacuum with their own legislation. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "California’s net neutrality law is broadband companies’ worst nightmare," 25 Feb. 2021 More than 64,000 people in Orange County were left powerless. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "Hurricane Facts: What was the strongest hurricane to pass over Orlando?," 22 Feb. 2021 Winter storms have left part of other states powerless, as well: Mississippi had more than 100,000 customers out and Louisiana more than 70,000. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Power comes back for most in Texas, but other problems pile up," 19 Feb. 2021 Their firepower, and a suffocating Maryland defense, rendered the 34-point performance from Iowa freshman Caitlin Clark — widely considered one of the best freshmen in America, averaging 26.9 points per game — powerless to stop it. Katherine Fominykh, baltimoresun.com, "Katie Benzan breaks 3-point record, Angel Reese returns as No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball overwhelms Iowa, 111-93," 23 Feb. 2021 An unarmed security guard was powerless to stop the robbery. Roland Li, San Francisco Chronicle, "Tech retailer B8ta closes 2 S.F. stores after robbery at gunpoint," 4 Feb. 2021 Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against leaving the EU in 2016 but were powerless to stop it. Christina Boyle, Los Angeles Times, "Brexit and COVID have slammed the not-so-United Kingdom. Its survival may be in danger," 27 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for powerless

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for powerless

Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Powerless.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powerless. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on powerless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for powerless

Nglish: Translation of powerless for Spanish Speakers

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