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I am writing a small piece on the current financial and economic crisis, and I am looking for adjectives or short expressions that describe the sense of helplessness that seems to hang over many people these days, like a sense of having no way out from the current difficult economic and political situation.

  1. People feel ____ in current economic environment.

  2. Workers think they are ____ because of economic crisis.

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What about "helpless" ? –  ermanen May 15 at 15:51
or impotent, powerless, or handcuffed? This seems like a good thesaurus question. –  frances May 15 at 16:02
This is a thesaurus question; helpless, impotent and powerless are three very good starting points. –  Sam May 15 at 16:41
possible duplicate of What other word can we use in place of "helpless" –  FumbleFingers May 15 at 16:55

8 Answers 8

People feel hopeless in current economic environment.

Workers think they are hopeless, because of economic crisis.

Hopelessness is what seems to come the closest to the feeling of having no way out from a difficult situation, as described in the OP.

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I like the word vulnerable in your sentences.

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Your a sense of having no way out leads me to suggest feeling trapped or cornered or stuck in the current economic environment.

Taking this a little further, you could also use words with more imagery that suggest being stuck in a certain economic “landscape” such as bogged down or mired, or use quicksand as a metaphor for being sucked down further into the ground even as you try to free yourself.

There are still more colorful metaphors that are probably too vulgar for your piece.

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a) Doomed

b) Screwed

c) Screwed over

d) Like they've been given the shaft

e) Deceived

f) Exploited


As 1), minus d).

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Consider fragile

(Of a person) not strong or sturdy; delicate and vulnerable.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

Well, many adjectives may work in this context I think, I suggest lost with the meaning of:

  • unable to find one's way or ascertain one's whereabouts (in a figurative sense).

I guess this is what many people affected by the crisis feel.

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In Australia you would be stonkered.

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Weathering a storm: Survive difficulties, as in If she can just weather the storm of that contract violation, she'll be fine. This expression alludes to a ship coming safely through bad weather. [Mid-1600s]

People feel they are weathering a storm in current economic environment. Workers thinks they are weathering in a storm because of economic crisis.

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This expression is more about coming through a rough situation undamaged, whereas the sentiment sought is one of inability to change the situation one is in. –  Sam May 15 at 16:40
@Sam, It is used both for before and after a crisis –  Third News May 15 at 16:47
weather the storm, weather '(Of a ship) come safely through (a storm): the sturdy boat had weathered the storm well'. The idiom is an extension of 'weather' meaning to come safely through, endure or withstand. I can find no instance of it being used in the present tense after a crisis. In that instance I see instead, 'X weathered the storm of Y' or simply 'X weathered Y'. –  Sam May 15 at 16:51
You will weather the difficulties yet. --F. W. Robertson. [1913 Webster] For I can weather the roughest gale. --Longfellow. [1913 Webster] {To weather out}, to encounter successfully, though with difficulty; as, to weather out a storm. [1913 Webster] –  Third News May 15 at 16:56
The first quote indicates that the difficulties are currently being undergone; it is affirming the belief that they will survive or overcome them, aimed at inspiring or buoying up the recipient. To weather out == to have weathered/survived (the passing of), to weather is to survive. If I rewrite those sentences with survive instead, they become 'You will survive the difficulties yet' and 'To have survived a storm'. This is all an aside to the fact that survival (or not) of an adverse situation is not the same thing as being unable to change it, which is what the original query relates to. –  Sam May 15 at 17:08

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