from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The ability or capacity to act or do something effectively.
  • noun A specific capacity, faculty, or aptitude.
  • noun Physical strength or force exerted or capable of being exerted: synonym: strength.
  • noun Effectiveness at moving one's emotions or changing how one thinks.
  • noun The ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority.
  • noun The military strength or economic or political influence of a nation or other group.
  • noun A country, nation, or other political unit having great influence or control over others.
  • noun A supernatural being.
  • noun Christianity The sixth of the nine orders of angels in medieval angelology.
  • noun The energy or motive force by which a physical system or machine is operated.
  • noun The capacity of a system or machine to operate.
  • noun Electrical or mechanical energy, especially as used to assist or replace human energy.
  • noun Electricity supplied to a home, building, or community.
  • noun Physics The rate at which work is done, expressed as the amount of work per unit time and commonly measured in units such as the watt and horsepower.
  • noun The product of applied potential difference and current in a direct-current circuit.
  • noun The product of the effective values of the voltage and current with the cosine of the phase angle between current and voltage in an alternating-current circuit.
  • noun The number of elements in a finite set.
  • noun Statistics In a statistical test, the probability of correctly rejecting the null hypothesis when it is false.
  • noun A measure of the magnification of an optical instrument, such as a microscope or telescope.
  • noun Chiefly Upper Southern US A large number or amount.
  • noun Archaic An armed force.
  • adjective Of or relating to political, social, or economic control.
  • adjective Operated with mechanical or electrical energy in place of bodily exertion.
  • adjective Of or relating to the generation or transmission of electricity.
  • adjective Informal Of or relating to influential business or professional practices.
  • transitive verb To supply with power, especially mechanical or electrical power.
  • idiom (powers that be) Those who hold effective power in a system or situation.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • An obsolete form of pour.
  • noun In geometry: The power of a point A with respect to a point-pair PP′ costraight with it is the product of the two sects from it to the pair—positive if it is on the same side of them, negative if it is between them. If m is the sect from A to the midpoint M of the sect PP′ , and h half the sect PP′ , then AP.AP′ = (m + h)(m—h) = mh. This power is null if A coincides with P or P′ .
  • noun The power of one point with respect to another is the square of the sect between them.
  • noun The power of a point with respect to a straight is the perpendicular from the point to the straight.
  • noun The power of a point with respect to a sphere or circle is its power with respect to a point-pair costraight with it and on the sphere or circle.
  • noun The square on the center-sect of two circles less the squares on their radii is the power of the two circles, or the power of one circle with respect to the other.
  • noun In the theory of assemblages: If the aggregates or sets A and B are equivalent they are said to have the same power.
  • noun A transfinite cardinal.
  • An obsolete form of poor.
  • noun In general, such an absence of external restriction and limitation that it depends only upon the inward determination of the subject whether or not it will act.
  • noun An endowment of a voluntary being whereby it becomes possible for that being to do or effect something.
  • noun A property of an inanimate thing or agency, especially a property of modifying other things.
  • noun Used absolutely, with specification of the effect: The property whereby anything fulfils its proper functions well or strongly: as, a medicine of great power.
  • noun A gift or talent for influencing others.
  • noun The ability or right to command or control; dominion; authority; the right of governing.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French pooir, to be able, power, from Vulgar Latin *potēre, to be able, from Latin potis, able, powerful; see poti- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English poer, from Old French poer, from Medieval Latin *potere, for Latin posse ("to be able"); see potent.


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  • "All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton (1834 - 1902)

    September 9, 2007

  • power cannot exciet without resistance Michele Foucault

    February 15, 2008

  • As Mrs. Kew had said, there was "a power of china." Kate and I were convinced that the lives of her grandmothers must have been spent in giving tea-parties. We counted ten sets of cups, beside quantities of stray ones; and some member of the family had evidently devoted her time to making a collection of pitchers.

    --Sarah Orne Jewett, 1877, Deephaven

    November 21, 2009