9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[im-puh-tuh nt] /ˈɪm pə tənt/
not potent; lacking power or ability.
utterly unable (to do something).
without force or effectiveness.
lacking bodily strength or physically helpless.
(of a male) unable to attain or sustain a penile erection.
(especially of a male) sterile.
Obsolete. without restraint.
an impotent person:
therapy for sexual impotents.
Origin of impotent
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin impotent- (stem of impotēns) without power over oneself or others. See im-2, potent1
Related forms
impotently, adverb
1, 2. powerless, helpless. 3. ineffectual, ineffective, feeble, weak. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for impotent
  • Short term stop-gaps designed to make those currently in charge feel less impotent wont work.
  • But not without sundry twinges of impotent rebellion against the mild effrontery of this unaccountable scrivener.
  • It also renders conventional monetary policy impotent, as the interest rate that prevents too much saving is below zero.
  • Foreign opinion will be outraged by the farcical legal case, but impotent.
  • The theorists are impotent in the absence of facts, or what is more relevant, the bending of events to clothe their theories.
  • He and his party are also offensive and impotent, as the current spurt of mail bombs proves.
  • Judging by your impotent remark on my pen name, it's you who went down by the path of meaningless insults.
  • Another reason is that the leaders are impotent, for the moment.
  • It should not squander its newly won credibility by continuing the charade of an impotent observer mission.
  • It has broken the time-honored tradition of physical and yet impotent football in favor of beauty, elegance and efficacy.
British Dictionary definitions for impotent


(when postpositive, often takes an infinitive) lacking sufficient strength; powerless
(esp of males) unable to perform sexual intercourse See erectile impotence
(obsolete) lacking self-control; unrestrained
Derived Forms
impotence, impotency, impotentness, noun
impotently, adverb
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 impotent

late 14c., "physically weak, enfeebled, crippled," from Old French impotent "powerless, weak, incapable," from Latin imponentem (nominative impotens) "lacking control, powerless," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + ponentem (nominative potens) "potent" (see potent).

Meaning "having no power to accomplish anything" is from mid-15c.; that of "completely lacking in sexual power" (of males) is from mid-15c. Middle English also had a native term for this: Cunt-beaten (mid-15c.). The figurative sense in Latin was "without self-control, headstrong, violent." Related: Impotently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
impotent in Medicine

impotent im·po·tent (ĭm'pə-tənt)

  1. Incapable of sexual intercourse, often because of an inability to achieve or sustain an erection.

  2. Sterile. Used of males.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for impotent

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for impotent

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with impotent