powerless

adjective

pow·​er·​less ˈpau̇(-ə)r-ləs How to pronounce powerless (audio)
1
: devoid of strength or resources
powerless victims
2
: lacking the authority or capacity to act
was powerless to help
powerlessly adverb
powerlessness noun

Example Sentences

I wish I could help you, but I am powerless in this situation.
Recent Examples on the Web Because without Bam Adebayo, the Heat were powerless. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 17 Nov. 2022 But even the most powerful gay [person] in Qatar is powerless in some ways. Charlie Campbell, Time, 16 Nov. 2022 There are people who are apparently powerless, who have the ability within themselves not to allow bad people and bad situations in the world, which happens to every single person just being alive. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Sep. 2022 When failure occurs — including things like illnesses over which individuals are powerless — we are counseled to seek out the positive, while assigning blame to the individual. John Warner, Chicago Tribune, 17 Sep. 2022 The varied views toward Russian counterparts from scientists in the West—to rely on official guidelines, to pretend the Russian people are powerless, or to evoke a complete cutoff—all emanate from a shared position: the innocence of the spectator. WIRED, 26 Aug. 2022 Still, the season 4 finale itself gives us an idea of what’s to come: The Hargreeves siblings are suddenly powerless, which worries and titillates them in equal measure. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 23 June 2022 Despite the relationship between gas prices and presidential approval rating, presidents exert little control over fuel costs, leaving them largely powerless to address perceptions of their performance in this area, experts said. Max Zahn, ABC News, 1 Nov. 2022 As the powerless figurehead of the empire, her bestowing freedom on colonial subjects was apt—because independence, too, was often largely symbolic. Kehinde Andrews, Scientific American, 28 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of powerless was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near powerless

Cite this Entry

“Powerless.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powerless. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

powerless

adjective

pow·​er·​less ˈpau̇(-ə)r-ləs How to pronounce powerless (audio)
1
: lacking power, force, or energy
2
: lacking authority to act
powerlessly adverb
powerlessness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on powerless

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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