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[in-kon-tn-uh nt] /ɪnˈkɒn tn ənt/
unable to restrain natural discharges or evacuations of urine or feces.
unable to contain or retain (usually followed by of):
incontinent of temper.
lacking in moderation or self-control, especially of sexual desire.
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 forms
incontinence, incontinency, noun
Can be confused
incontinent, inconsistent (see synonym study at inconsistent) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for incontinence
  • Urinary incontinence is the inability to control urination.
  • By the time they go into nursing care, their condition has often deteriorated to include immobility, incontinence and dementia.
  • Other researchers were studying skin diseases, incontinence after giving birth and hair loss.
  • Urinary incontinence can have severe emotional effects.
  • Her incontinence is definitely in the form of a puddle.
  • Fewer than half of the patients who have urinary incontinence tell their doctor about the problem.
  • Proper hygiene is essential for patients with incontinence.
  • In some cases, you may experience some urinary incontinence for a period of time.
  • He was able to think and write clearly, and his incontinence improved.
  • Urinary incontinence is less common after radiation than surgery.
British Dictionary definitions for incontinence


lacking in restraint or control, esp sexually
relating to or exhibiting involuntary urination or defecation
(foll by of) having little or no control (over)
unrestrained; uncontrolled
Derived Forms
incontinence, incontinency, noun
incontinently, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin incontinens, from in-1 + continere to hold, restrain


obsolete words for immediately
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for incontinence

late 14c., "inability to restrain sexual desire, sexual immorality," later "inability to keep to a religious rule" (early 15c.), from Old French incontinence "lack of abstinence, unchastity" (12c.) or directly from Latin incontinentia "greediness; incontinence," noun of quality from incontinens "incontinent, immoderate, intemperate" (see incontinent). Meaning "inability to retain bodily functions" is from 1754.



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
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incontinence in Medicine

incontinence in·con·ti·nence (ĭn-kŏn'tə-nəns)

  1. The inability to control excretory functions.

  2. Lack of restraint in sexual relations; immoderation.

incontinent in·con·ti·nent (ĭn-kŏn'tə-nənt)

  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.
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