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

He was forced to watch as his Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs, rendered powerless by a nasty hip injury. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "The Early Returns on Isaiah Thomas's Return," 11 Jan. 2018 Turns out, our daughter was powerless against the white noise of the fan above the oven. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "3 Tricks That Will Calm a Crying Baby, According to a Researcher Who Surveyed 800+ Parents," 16 Jan. 2019 Across England, an estimated 2,700 homes and businesses will be powerless against coastal erosion within the next 50 years. Carolyn Beeler, Teen Vogue, "Erosion From Rising Sea Levels Is Destroying the English Town of Happisburgh," 17 July 2018 The North Carolina boy was powerless against the rare blood disease that rendered his father in complete renal failure. Christina Capatides, CBS News, "Boy with sick father turns to President Trump for help and gets touching response," 28 Mar. 2018 People feel powerless with respect to important things, and that leaves them open to be manipulated politically. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Our summer of fear: A conversation with Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum," 9 July 2018 Californians were powerless, without air-conditioning, in the hottest weather many had ever experienced. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Record heat put thousands of Californians in the dark Friday. Scientists predicted this from climate change.," 9 July 2018 These are tools of the relatively weak and powerless, and highlighting them as the only means through which the exercise of free discourse can be constrained is missing the bulk of the story. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "NFL owners are stifling speech, but it’s not called “no-platforming” when you’re rich and own the platform," 25 May 2018 By definition, cultural appropriation hurts the powerless, and the Catholic church is one of the most powerful institutions in the world. Jessica Andrews, Teen Vogue, "The Met Gala 2018 Theme Isn't Cultural Appropriation," 9 May 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

19 May 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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