Try Our Apps


The Best Internet Slang


[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
First recorded in 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. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for powerless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The old woman echoed the cry; but there were none to hear it, and she was powerless to aid.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • I took the knife from her powerless hand, and she fainted in my arms.

  • With all his powers of intellect, he was powerless, because he had no faith in virtue.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • Within the circle of their light the poison of serpents and worms is powerless.

  • To my eyes the sun seemed dim, its beams were powerless to warm me.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
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