helpless vs incapacitated what difference

what is difference between helpless and incapacitated



From Middle English helples, from Old English *helplēas (helpless) from Proto-Germanic *helpōlausaz, equivalent to help +‎ -less. Compare Dutch hulpeloos (helpless), German hilflos (helpless), Swedish hjälplös (helpless).


  • IPA(key): /ˈhɛlplɪs/
  • Hyphenation: help‧less


helpless (comparative more helpless, superlative most helpless)

  1. Unable to defend oneself.
    • 1995, Bryan Adams, Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?
      Then when you find yourself lyin’ helpless in her arms
      You know you really love a woman
  2. Lacking help; powerless.
  3. Unable to act without help; needing help; feeble.
  4. Uncontrollable.
    a helpless urge
  5. (obsolete) From which there is no possibility of being saved.
    • For, while they fly that gulf’s devouring jawes,
      They on the rock are rent and sunck in helplesse wawes.

Derived terms

  • helplessly
  • helplessness


Further reading

  • helpless in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
  • helpless in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.




  1. simple past tense of incapacitate


incapacitated (comparative more incapacitated, superlative most incapacitated)

  1. Rendered unable to act; restricted from taking action.

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