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 micromanaging every step of the way, flight controllers will be powerless over what happens at the end of the road Monday, nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) away. Marcia Dunn, The Seattle Times, "Mars landing comes down to final 6 minutes of 6-month trip," 21 Nov. 2018 There are journalists all over the country, tireless and underpaid, who care deeply about uncovering wrong and giving comfort to the powerless. BostonGlobe.com, "People helping us pull back from the darkness," 30 June 2018 On a deeper level, however, the issue is how best to effect social and political change when those in power ignore the needs of the powerless and defend their actions with a bodyguard of lies and deceit. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Martin Luther King Jr. had a few words to say about calls for 'civility'," 26 June 2018 The idea of standing up for the powerless, loving people, having hope and keeping courage in difficult times. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "KC mom's family feels the Force of love and courage in 'Star Wars' | The Kansas City Star," 24 May 2018 Neurologists on the front lines have felt powerless, watching their patients disappear into the sinkhole of forgetfulness. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 If Obama really wanted to pass either the Dream Act or comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans were powerless to stop him. Edmund Demarche, Fox News, "Obama, Pelosi are 'traitors' to Hispanics, Cuban-American journalist running for Congress says," 10 Aug. 2018 And with each day that goes by, Chicago city officials led by Rahm Emanuel seemed more and more powerless to stop it. Fox News, "Kevin McCarthy leads charge against social media censorship," 30 Aug. 2018 But the Thunder are over the cap, leaving them powerless to make major changes, and some attractive options loom with the Lakers and 76ers. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "As the stars come out, Kevin Durant shines brightest," 28 Apr. 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

15 Dec 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

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