Etymology
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powerless (adj.)

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

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resistless (adj.)

1580s, "irresistible, incapable of being withstood;" 1590s, "unresisting, powerless to resist," from resist (v.) + -less. Related: Resistlessly; resistlessness. Now apparently obsolete in both senses, probably at least in part due to the somewhat conflicting sense.

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unwieldy (adj.)

late 14c., "lacking strength, powerless," from un- (1) "not" + obsolete wieldy, from Old English wielde "active, vigorous," from Proto-Germanic *walth- "have power" (see wield (v.)). Meaning "moving ungracefully" is recorded from 1520s; in reference to weapons, "difficult to handle, awkward by virtue of size or shape" it is attested from 1540s. Related: Unwieldiness.

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bloodless (adj.)

Middle English blodles, from Old English blodleas, "drained of blood;" see blood (n.) + -less. The figurative sense in Middle English was "powerless, without spirit or energy." The meaning "free from bloodshed" is from c. 1600. The figurative sense of "cold-hearted" is by 1881. Related: Bloodlessly.

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impotent (adj.)

late 14c., "physically weak, enfeebled, crippled," from Old French impotent "powerless, weak, incapable of doing," from Latin imponentem (nominative impotens) "lacking control, powerless, feeble; lacking self-control," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + ponentem (nominative potens) "potent" (see potent).

Meaning "having no power to accomplish anything" is from mid-15c.; that of "completely lacking in sexual power" (of males) is from mid-15c. Middle English also had a native term for this: Cunt-beaten (mid-15c.). The figurative sense in Latin was "without self-control, headstrong, violent, ungovernable, lacking self-restraint," which sometimes is found in English (OED cites examples from Spenser, Massinger, Dryden, and Pope). Related: Impotently.

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impotence (n.)

early 15c., "physical weakness," also "poverty," from Old French impotence "weakness" (13c.), from Latin impotentia "lack of control or power," from impotentem "lacking control, powerless" (see impotent). In reference to a complete want of (male) sexual potency, from c. 1500. The figurative senses of the word in Latin were "violence, fury, unbridled passion," via the notion of "want of self-restraining power," and these sometimes were used in English. Related: Impotency.

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numb (adj.)

c. 1400, nome, "deprived of motion or feeling, powerless to feel or act," literally "taken, seized," from past participle of nimen "to take, seize," from Old English niman "to take, catch, grasp" (from PIE root *nem- "assign, allot; take"). The unetymological -b (to conform to comb, limb, etc.) appeared 17c. The notion is of being "taken" with palsy, shock, and especially cold. Figurative use is from 1560s.

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