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 The Federal Reserve will be powerless to prevent such a transition. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Note: Debt, Windfalls, and Disaster," 14 Sep. 2020 Even an All-Pro like Buckner is powerless against it. Jim Ayello, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Can't stop Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars? What happened to the Colts defense?," 13 Sep. 2020 In August, California carried out its first rotating blackouts since the 2001 energy crisis, drawing the ire of millions who went powerless amid extreme temperatures. Brian Eckhouse, Fortune, "California faces widespread power cuts after weeks of destructive wildfires," 8 Sep. 2020 The word freedom is hypocritical when spoken by the people who create the conditions that leave us sick and powerless. Timothy Snyder, The New York Review of Books, "What Ails America," 3 Sep. 2020 House and Senate Republicans, powerless to stop anything Democrats can agree on, see the special session as a chance to hammer the other side of the aisle as soft on crime. Washington Post, "Lawmakers return to Richmond with high-stakes agenda of coronavirus, criminal justice issues," 17 Aug. 2020 Evers would be powerless to stop them if his vetoes can't stand. Todd Richmond, chicagotribune.com, "Battle lines set for Wisconsin GOP’s super-majority push," 12 Aug. 2020 Evers would be powerless to stop them if his vetoes can't stand. Todd Richmond, Star Tribune, "Battle lines set for Wisconsin GOP's super-majority push," 12 Aug. 2020 This time, Mali's military has sometimes seemed powerless to stop extremists linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS. The Christian Science Monitor, "Path forward unclear after military coup ousts Mali president," 19 Aug. 2020

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

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Powerless.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powerless. Accessed 28 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for powerless


How to pronounce powerless (audio)

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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