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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 impotency
Historical Examples
  • Slavery left its blight of impotency and profligacy upon them.

  • Sacred as they were they still mocked him with their impotency to stay the hand of death.

    Omega, the Man Lowell Howard Morrow
  • It would only show its impotency, or, what is more, its own corruption.

    Public School Education Michael Mller
  • So we are powerless, and by this impotency we are smitten with grief.'

    The Gtakaml rya Sra
  • The foregoing measures for sterility are also suitable in cases of impotency.

    Fruits of Philosophy Charles Knowlton
  • As to the remedies for impotency, they are much the same as for sterility.

    Fruits of Philosophy Charles Knowlton
  • Its synonym was impotency among the law-abiders who were yet political cowards.

  • The crudeness and impotency of the song in our ears has nothing to do with the argument.

    Village Life in China Arthur H. Smith
  • Death or impotency can be produced by placing poison on his Page 304garments.

    The Tinguian Fay-Cooper Cole
  • Seventh, The impotency and limitations of the world order are most evident.


    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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