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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for impotency
Historical Examples
  • Where now he realized only his own inconsequence, effort would make him aware of his own impotency and insufficiency.

    This Side of Paradise F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Sacred as they were they still mocked him with their impotency to stay the hand of death.

    Omega, the Man Lowell Howard Morrow
  • There are few—very few—cases of Seminal Weakness and impotency that cannot now be cured.

  • Its synonym was impotency among the law-abiders who were yet political cowards.

  • But it is above me, since it corrects and rectifies me; gives me a distrust of myself, and makes me sensible of my impotency.

    The Existence of God Francois de Salignac de La Mothe- Fenelon
  • The crudeness and impotency of the song in our ears has nothing to do with the argument.

    Village Life in China Arthur H. Smith
  • The most important proof of capability required from persons accused of impotency, is that called "the congress."

    A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 6 (of 10) Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)
  • Death or impotency can be produced by placing poison on his Page 304garments.

    The Tinguian Fay-Cooper Cole
  • It would only show its impotency, or, what is more, its own corruption.

    Public School Education Michael Mller
  • Seventh, The impotency and limitations of the world order are most evident.

    Satan Lewis Sperry Chafer
Word Origin and History for impotency



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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impotency 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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