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[im-puh-tuh ns] /ˈɪm pə təns/
the condition or quality of being impotent; weakness.
chronic inability to attain or sustain an erection for the performance of a sexual act.
sterility, especially in the male.
Obsolete. lack of self-restraint.
Also, impotency, impotentness.
Origin of impotence
1375-1425; late Middle English, variant (see -ence) of impotencie < Latin impotentia want of self-control, weakness. See im-2, potency
Can be confused
impetus, impotence, sterility.
importance, impotence (see synonym study at importance)
impotence, sterility, sterilized. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impotence
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Madden quivered at his impotence to put his hand on the thief in the crowd.

    The Cruise of the Dry Dock T. S. Stribling
  • I had not then been a monument of impotence and misery for the world to gaze at.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • If you would be delivered from your impotence—oh, fear not to say, “I will, I will!”

  • Mr. Bentham sighed, as though his impotence were a matter of sincere regret to him.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • This shows the impotence of any person who tries to prevent such infamies.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
Word Origin and History for impotence

early 15c., "physical weakness," also "poverty," from Middle French impotence "weakness," from Latin impotentia "lack of control or power," from impotentem (nominative impotens); see impotent. In reference to a want of (male) sexual potency, from c.1500. The figurative senses of the word in Latin were "violence, fury, unbridled passion." Related: Impotency.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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impotence in Medicine

impotence im·po·tence (ĭm'pə-təns) or im·po·ten·cy (-tən-sē)
The quality or condition of being impotent.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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