[im-puh-tuh ns]


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 im·po·ten·cy, im·po·tent·ness.

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 confusedimpetus impotence sterilityimportance impotence (see synonym study at importance)impotence sterility sterilized Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for impotence

Contemporary Examples of impotence

Historical Examples of impotence

  • Madden quivered at his impotence to put his hand on the thief in the crowd.

  • I had not then been a monument of impotence and misery for the world to gaze at.


    William Godwin

  • If you would be delivered from your impotence—oh, fear not to say, “I will, I will!”

  • Mr. Bentham sighed, as though his impotence were a matter of sincere regret to him.

    The Avenger

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

  • This shows the impotence of any person who tries to prevent such infamies.

Word Origin and History for impotence

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

impotence in Medicine




The quality or condition of being impotent.
erectile dysfunction
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.