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

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 Of course a lot of the frustration over Obama's apparent absence is driven by a sense of powerless and the desire to return to normalcy. Luke Darby, GQ, "Why Obama Has Been Staying Quiet," 25 June 2018 In his version of their history, beatings were commonplace — punishments for minor infractions or poor performances — and his mother Katherine was powerless to intervene. People Staff, PEOPLE.com, "Joe Jackson Was Left Out of Son Michael's Will: 'This Is a Decision His Son Made' Says Lawyer," 27 June 2018 Russia were coming off of the back of a superb display against the heavily favoured Netherlands, but they were left powerless against Spain. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: Spain vs Russia - Classic Encounter, Team News, Predictions & More," 30 June 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

6 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).


not any or not one

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