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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 incontinent
  • In such cases, people may become incontinent because they have difficulty with self-control.
  • Many of the children must use wheelchairs, and many are incontinent.
  • Two people are needed to turn him every two hours day and night to prevent bedsores, and he is incontinent and catheterized.
  • And the would-be mothers, their insides wrecked, were utterly incontinent.
  • Caught in a series of bureaucratic tangles, he has slept in shelters and on the streets, often incontinent and feverish.
  • Sometimes the reasons for the new status can be apparent, as when a resident becomes incontinent.
  • And the would-be mothers, their insides wrecked, are utterly incontinent.
  • He became slow, disoriented, forgetful and incontinent.
  • Prostate removal is a delicate surgical procedure that renders many patients impotent, incontinent or both.
  • He was in any event severely crippled, even for a time paralysed and incontinent.
British Dictionary definitions for incontinent


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 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
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incontinent in Medicine

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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