Word of The Day for Tuesday, March 29, 2011


im•pu•i•sance (im-PYOO-uh-suhns, im-pyoo-IS-uhns, im-PWIS-uhns)  n

lack of power or effectiveness; weakness; impotence

impuissant adjective

15c; from Middle English impuissaunce, from Old French impuissance : in- "not" + puissance "power"

Synonyms: helpless, impotent, incapable, incapacitated, incompetent, ineffectual, inefficacious, inoperative, powerless, weak, flaccid, forceless, limp, torpid

Sentence Examples:
• He could have no hope of making his position clear to the constituency to which he was responsible. Debarred on the one side from taking an active part in the administration of state affairs, and bitterly arraigned on the other on the grounds of inefficiency, laxity, and indifference to duty, the second month of office found John Barclay in a fair way to be ground to powder between the millstones of impuissance and hostile criticism. -The Lieutenant-Governor, by Guy Wetmore Carryl

• He is my own handiwork. I have created him. I have fashioned his outlines, have wound up the mechanism that moves him to compose. Did you ever read that terrifying thought of Yeats, the Irish poet? I've forgotten the story, but remember the idea: 'The beautiful arts were sent into the world to overthrow nations, and, finally, life itself, sowing everywhere unlimited desires, like torches thrown into a burning city.' There--'like torches thrown into a burning city!' Richard Van Kuyp is one of my burning torches. In the spectacle of his impuissance I find relief from my own suffering. -Visionaries, by James Huneker

• It may seem paradoxical that in an era where engineering is an everyday facet of life, where we seek and sometimes succeed in controlling one dimension of life after another, we should feel a sense of impuissance, but this is indeed the case. -Why literature matters in the 21st century, Mark William Roche

Sources: Free Dictionary

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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