Although "incontinence," used by itself, generally refers to inability to restrain urine, it can also apply to defecation. Medically, these are known respectively as urinary and fecal incontinence.

In the case of fecal incontinence, the inability referred to here is physiological. People who have stools that should be restrainable and anal sphincters that should be capable of restraining them, but for some reason still lack control, are said to have encopresis.

Also note that the moral or personal aspect of incontinence referred to by Webster 1913 had mostly disappeared from American English by the end of the twentieth century. The term now refers almost exclusively to the bladder or bowel condition.

In*con"ti*nence (?), In*con"ti*nen*cy (?), n. [L. incontinentia: cf. F. incontinence.]

1.

Incapacity to hold; hence, incapacity to hold back or restrain; the quality or state of being incontinent; want of continence; failure to restrain the passions or appetites; indulgence of lust; lewdness.

That Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 1 Cor. vii. 5.

From the rash hand of bold incontinence. Milton.

2. Med.

The inability of any of the animal organs to restrain the natural evacuations, so that the discharges are involuntary; as, incontinence of urine.

 

© Webster 1913.

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