[in-kon-tn-uh nt]
See more synonyms for incontinent on
  1. unable to restrain natural discharges or evacuations of urine or feces.
  2. unable to contain or retain (usually followed by of): incontinent of temper.
  3. lacking in moderation or self-control, especially of sexual desire.
  4. unceasing or unrestrained: an incontinent flow of talk.

Origin of incontinent

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin incontinent- (stem of incontinēns). See in-3, continent (adj.)
Related formsin·con·ti·nence, in·con·ti·nen·cy, noun
Can be confusedincontinent inconsistent (see synonym study at inconsistent) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for incontinent

Contemporary Examples of incontinent

  • What followed for eight years could have been more accurately called “Incontinent conservatism.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Quit Redefining Conservatism

    Christopher Buckley

    February 19, 2010

Historical Examples of incontinent

  • For with the incontinent man it is not as with the self-seeker and the covetous.

  • It is the incontinent who have neither part nor lot in any one of them.

  • It would seem you are decidedly of opinion that the incontinent are the reverse of free?

  • Incontinent the kyng commaunded to take and put hym to dethe.

  • His words were overheard of sundry Trevisans, who asked him incontinent, 'How!

British Dictionary definitions for incontinent


  1. lacking in restraint or control, esp sexually
  2. relating to or exhibiting involuntary urination or defecation
  3. (foll by of) having little or no control (over)
  4. unrestrained; uncontrolled
Derived Formsincontinence or incontinency, nounincontinently, adverb

Word Origin for incontinent

C14: from Old French, from Latin incontinens, from in- 1 + continere to hold, restrain




  1. obsolete words for immediately

Word Origin for incontinent

C15: from Late Latin in continentī tempore, literally: in continuous time, that is, with no interval
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 incontinent

late 14c., "wanting in self restraint," from Old French incontinent, from Latin incontinentem (nominative incontinens) "incontinent, immoderate, intemperate," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + continens (see continent). Originally chiefly of sexual appetites; sense of "unable to control bowels or bladder" first attested 1828.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

incontinent in Medicine


  1. Lacking normal voluntary control of excretory functions.
  2. Lacking sexual restraint; unchaste.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.