Try Our Apps


World Series Quiz


[pou-er-lis] /ˈpaʊ ər lɪs/
unable to produce an effect:
a disease against which modern medicine is virtually powerless.
lacking power to act; helpless:
His legs crumpled, and he was powerless to rise.
Origin of powerless
1545-55; power + -less
Related forms
powerlessly, adverb
powerlessness, noun
1. ineffective. 2. feeble, impotent, prostrate, infirm. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for powerless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Locomotion becomes feeble and tottering, the voice harsh, the intellect obtuse and powerless, and all the senses blunted.

    Select Temperance Tracts American Tract Society
  • No, no, too eagerly my soul deceives Its powerless self: I know this cannot be.

    Endymion John Keats
  • The captains all got a wigging for failing to keep us in hand; but they were powerless.

  • Sometimes the test was to show that the temptation was powerless.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Stunned, powerless, like a straw on the face of a torrent, he was swept onward he knew not whither.

British Dictionary definitions for powerless


without power or authority
Derived Forms
powerlessly, adverb
powerlessness, noun
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for powerless

early 15c., "lacking might or fortitude," from power (n.) + -less. Related: Powerlessly; powerlessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for powerless

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for powerless

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for powerless