"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[help-lis] /ˈhɛlp lɪs/
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
1125-75; Middle English; see help, -less
Related forms
helplessly, adverb
helplessness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for helplessness
  • Horror manifests the primal fear: loss of will, helplessness.
  • So this way to overcome learned helplessness is totally unacceptable.
  • Other cultural greeting displays similarly involve a demonstration of helplessness.
  • But of course thinking this way only promotes a feeling of helplessness.
  • What makes kids so lovable is the tension between their helplessness and their drive to deny it.
  • There's a kind of helplessness in many of the poems, the sense of being pulled along by something irresistible and invisible.
  • helplessness and despair were the main responses to the blackened craters and scattered cinders behind their back yards.
  • There was something in the helplessness of the little animal held so tightly in his arms that gave him courage.
  • On the whole, considering his helplessness, he thought he had done as well as his neighbors.
  • But this is not a time for reticence, complacency, or helplessness.
British Dictionary definitions for helplessness


unable to manage independently
made powerless or weak: they were helpless from so much giggling
without help
Derived Forms
helplessly, adverb
helplessness, 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
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Word Origin and History for helplessness



"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
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