"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[pou-er-lis] /ˈpaʊ ər lɪs/
unable to produce an effect:
a disease against which modern medicine is virtually powerless.
lacking power to act; helpless:
His legs crumpled, and he was powerless to rise.
Origin of powerless
1545-55; power + -less
Related forms
powerlessly, adverb
powerlessness, noun
1. ineffective. 2. feeble, impotent, prostrate, infirm. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for powerless
  • The powerless twin was unable to reach a nearby airport and made a forced landing in the backyard of a private residence.
  • Flying bullets and shrapnel rendered firefighters powerless.
  • The government, with its meager resources, is virtually powerless to stop the looting.
  • It's the best real estate possible-waterfront, protected from hurricanes, and powerless air-conditioning.
  • When people are powerless, they are easily manipulated.
  • On that windswept mountain it occurs to me that humans are not so powerless after all.
  • Two years ago it left hundreds of thousands of homes in my state powerless.
  • Participants were asked to write about a time they either felt powerful or powerless.
  • But without oxygen, their energy is depleted and they are powerless to remove it.
  • But as many of them noted in televised interviews, what made matters far worse was feeling powerless.
British Dictionary definitions for powerless


without power or authority
Derived Forms
powerlessly, adverb
powerlessness, 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 powerless

early 15c., "lacking might or fortitude," from power (n.) + -less. Related: Powerlessly; powerlessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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