pow·er·less | \ˈpau̇(-ə)r-ləs \

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

Alas, only President Trump can fire Scott Pruitt, which means that all the sick burns in the world are powerless to stop his diligent efforts to facilitate the destruction of the environment he is charged with protecting. Jay Willis, GQ, "Watching Angry Senators Drag Scott Pruitt Is a Deeply Satisfying Experience," 17 May 2018 His concerns were echoed by his conservative colleagues, including Roberts, who suggested that second guessing the president’s national security decisions would lead to a slippery slope that could render the president powerless. Liz Goodwin, BostonGlobe.com, "Key Supreme Court justices appear friendly to travel ban," 25 Apr. 2018 And Buggs was able to routinely slip through the left side of the line, where Jonah Williams, Lester Cotton and Ross Pierschbacher were often powerless to stop him. Michael Casagrande, AL.com, "Live updates from Nick Saban after A-Day Game," 21 Apr. 2018 After Artem Dzyuba's penalty had cancelled out the own goal from Sergei Ignashevich that opened the scoring, Russia spent most of the game on the defensive, maintaining a rigid structure that Spain's tiki-taka was powerless to penetrate. SI.com, "Stanislav Cherchesov Thanks Players for Trusting in Defensive Tactics After Famous Win Over Spain," 1 July 2018 Still, Mexico’s leaders seem powerless to halt the killings, which have targeted candidates from all major political parties. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, latimes.com, "Slayings of political candidates accelerate in run-up to Mexico election," 27 June 2018 My quick reaction to long-simmering need comes from my own discomfort with feeling powerless to help, rather than from thinking about how to really be helpful. Jason Han, Philly.com, "What women in crisis taught these doctors about empathy," 6 July 2018 Trapped and powerless, Hamdan worries that the regime or its supporters will steal his harvest—and then his land. The Economist, "How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria," 28 June 2018 The visitors struck first with an opening-drive touchdown, but spent the rest of the night largely powerless as they were dismantled by the Birds, 38-7. Jack Holmes, Esquire, "Eagles Fans Calmly Celebrate by Climbing a Few Greased-Up Street Poles," 22 Jan. 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

20 Oct 2018

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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 \

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

Comments on powerless

What made you want to look up powerless? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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