Definition of impotent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɪmpət(ə)nt/


1Unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless: he was seized with an impotent anger
More example sentences
  • Yet it happened, and he felt helpless, powerless, and impotent.
  • The end result is that we not only feel frightened - we often feel unable to respond, and feel powerless and impotent as individuals.
  • Thus, they are impotent, powerless to confront the current regime.
powerless, ineffective, ineffectual, inadequate, weak, useless, worthless, vain, futile, unavailing, unsuccessful, profitless, fruitless
literary impuissant
weak, powerless, ineffective, lame, feeble, effete
informal past it
2(Of a man) abnormally unable to achieve an erection or orgasm: he was on medication which had made him impotent
More example sentences
  • He is impotent and unable to satisfy his estranged wife.
  • Rumours of his extraordinary sexual powers spread and multiplied, though they were probably nonsense - there seems more evidence, indeed, to suggest that he was sexually impotent.
  • He's not impotent or physically handicapped, he just isn't very interested and says there is more to a relationship than sex.
2.1(Of a male animal) unable to copulate.



Pronunciation: /ˈɪmpət(ə)ntli/
Example sentences
  • ‘We raged impotently, wondering why this has happened to us, asking the usual questions of God and the universe,’ he writes.
  • The state watches impotently as its culture, beamed in from the coasts, becomes coarser and more offensive by the year.
  • In fantasy literature the availability of power is in inverse proportion to the daily lives of a typical teenager, hemmed in by school and family and impotently yearning for autonomy.


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin impotent- 'powerless', from in- 'not' + potent- (see potent1).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: im¦po|tent

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