unable to help oneself; weak or dependent: a helpless invalid.
deprived of strength or power; powerless; incapacitated: They were helpless with laughter.
affording no help.

Origin of helpless

Middle English word dating back to 1125–75; see origin at help, -less
Related formshelp·less·ly, adverbhelp·less·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for helpless

Contemporary Examples of helpless

Historical Examples of helpless

  • I remembered the helpless kid that Paralus confided to my care.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • John made a helpless gesture, and at a renewed call, went indoors.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • She fell to the floor in helpless, shrieking laughter when he came.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But she could not get her mother's feeling of him as a helpless, dependent thing.

  • Nay, we must carry on and play the part of the helpless merchant.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for helpless



unable to manage independently
made powerless or weakthey were helpless from so much giggling
without help
Derived Formshelplessly, adverbhelplessness, 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

Word Origin and History for helpless

"unable to act for oneself," c.1200, from help (n.) + -less. Related: Helplessly; helplessness. In Middle English and later sometimes also "unable to give help, affording no help" (late 14c.), but this was never common.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper