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[im-pair] /ɪmˈpɛər/
verb (used with object)
to make or cause to become worse; diminish in ability, value, excellence, etc.; weaken or damage:
to impair one's health; to impair negotiations.
verb (used without object)
to grow or become worse; lessen.
Archaic. impairment.
Origin of impair1
1250-1300; Middle English empairen, empeiren to make worse < Middle French empeirer, equivalent to em- im-1 + peirer to make worse < Late Latin pējōrāre, equivalent to Latin pējōr-, stem of pējor worse + -ā- thematic vowel + -re infinitive suffix; cf. pejorative
Related forms
impairable, adjective
impairer, noun
impairment, noun
nonimpairment, noun
preimpairment, noun
self-impairable, adjective
self-impairing, adjective
unimpairable, adjective
1. See injure.
1. repair. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impairing
Historical Examples
  • I will not do my family the injury of impairing the little I have.

    Albert Gallatin John Austin Stevens
  • The money was her husband's, and you knew it, and you knew it was impairing his estate to furnish it.

    Gordon Keith

    Thomas Nelson Page
  • The caution increased his cunning but was impairing his character.

    The Young Man and the World Albert J. Beveridge
  • Emerson has used the same figure, but in a passage which ought not to be regarded as impairing our author's originality.

  • By these means I was enabled to reserve all my rents for carrying on my lawsuits, without at all impairing the estate.

    Rattlin the Reefer Edward Howard
  • Depressing thoughts interfere with the cerebral circulation, impairing the nutrition of the cells and nerve centers.

    Nuggets of the New Thought

    William Walker Atkinson,
  • Rapid changes of temperature act as an exciting cause of laminitis by impairing the normal blood supply.

    Special Report on Diseases of the Horse United States Department of Agriculture
  • What are the agencies alternately improving or impairing the racial qualities?

  • It's impairing her looks, making her nervous and almost hysterical—in a word, quite unlike herself.

    From Out the Vasty Deep Mrs. Belloc Lowndes
  • The whole thing was so exquisitely wrought that age had only softened the lines, without in the least impairing them.

British Dictionary definitions for impairing


(transitive) to reduce or weaken in strength, quality, etc: his hearing was impaired by an accident
Derived Forms
impairable, adjective
impairer, noun
impairment, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French empeirer to make worse, from Late Latin pējorāre, from Latin pejor worse; see pejorative
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for impairing



late 14c., earlier ampayre, apeyre (c.1300), from Old French empeirier (Modern French empirer), from Vulgar Latin *impeiorare "make worse," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + Late Latin peiorare "make worse" (see pejorative). In reference to driving under the influence of alcohol, first recorded 1951 in Canadian English. Related: Impaired; impairing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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