To impair means to weaken, damage, or diminish the quality, function, or value of something or someone. It refers to the state of causing a negative impact or hindrance on an object or person’s abilities, capabilities, or characteristics.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



damage, weaken, harm, undermine, hinder, compromise, impede, diminish, hamper, incapacitate.


Enhance, improve, strengthen, aid, facilitate, promote, support, boost, restore, preserve.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun impairers, impairment, impairer, impairments
Verb impair, impairs, impairing, impaired
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The excessive use of electronic devices can impair your vision and lead to eye strain.

  • Lack of sleep can impair your cognitive function and negatively impact your ability to concentrate and make decisions.

  • Drinking alcohol before driving can impair your judgment and reaction time, putting yourself and others at risk.

  • In some cases, certain medical conditions can impair a person’s mobility, making it difficult for them to perform daily activities.


The word “impair” has its roots in the Latin language. It is derived from the Latin word “imparare” which means “to make unequal” or “to make worse.” The prefix “im-” denotes negation or reversal, while the root “par” means equal. Therefore, “impair” essentially conveys the idea of making something unequal or worse in quality or function.

Throughout history, “impair” has been widely used in various contexts. It is predominantly used as a verb to describe the act of weakening, damaging, or diminishing something or someone. This word is commonly employed in discussions related to physical and cognitive impairments, where it refers to the negative impact on an individual’s abilities, capabilities, or characteristics.

The usage of “impair” extends beyond personal attributes and can also be applied to objects or systems. For instance, technological devices or machinery can be impaired when they encounter faults or malfunctions, leading to a decrease in their efficiency or performance. Additionally, “impair” is employed in legal contexts to describe actions or conditions that harm or hinder an individual’s rights or opportunities.

Prefixes, suffixes, and roots play integral roles in the formation of the word “impair.” As mentioned earlier, the prefix “im-” conveys negation or reversal, indicating the concept of making something unequal or worse. The root “par” comes from the Latin word “paris,” meaning equal, and implies the idea of equality or balance. Thus, the combination of the prefix and root creates the notion of causing a negative impact or hindrance on the equilibrium, functioning, or quality of something or someone.

Overall, the word “impair” has a rich history rooted in Latin and has found extensive usage in various domains. It serves as a means to describe the weakening, damaging, or diminishing of attributes, abilities, or objects, and highlights the negative impact on their quality or functionality.