Definitions

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

  • n. Power; might.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Power, might or potency.
  • n. The high-jump component of the sport of show jumping.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Power; strength; might; force; potency.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Power; strength; force; vigor.
  • n. Jurisdiction; power; control.
  • n. Armed force.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. power to influence or coerce

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from poissant, powerful, present participle of pooir, to be able; see power.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman pussance, pusaunce et al., from puissant ("powerful"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Could pissens be French-based Creole (maybe Haitian, if the ad was made in America), as in French "puissance" (power, potential, see Chinese neng 能)?

    languagehat.com: NAME THAT LANGUAGE!

  • O thou of beautiful smiles, Word is a cow, in consequence of her puissance which is both divine and not divine.

    The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 4 Books 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18

  • Well, what Spenser did with practically every Western myth, epic, and writer before him makes Faulkner look like a pre-schooler using slight of hand to hide a coin), his passion, his facility with language (that is, if you ignore the occasional "puissance"), his psychological insight.

    Telecommuter Talk

  • As a mark of his noble puissance, shops and restaurants throughout the city unhesitatingly honored his money at full face value.

    LIGHTING OUT FOR THE TERRITORY

  • How, Dalgliesh wondered, had the sculptor managed to convey the sweetness and the obstinacy of that individual smile, to model compassion and yet reduce it to self-delusion, to show humility garbed in a monk's habit -nd yet convey an overriding impression of the puissance of evil.

    She Closed Her Eyes

  • Une idée fausse, mais claire et précise, aura toujours plus de puissance dans le monde qu'une idée vraie mais complexe.

    Milestones

  • BIEN VU : la puissance extraordinaire et exploitable, les performances époustouflantes, la relative facilité de conduite, l'efficacité rassurante du freinage, l'impressionnante qualité de fabrication

    [bugatti] mille et un chevaux - wow

  • Not much detail is given about the magic they hold, but the reader is given stories of their puissance to confirm that something is decidedly different.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • They want the US to exercise more power over, say, the genocide in Rwanda but are worried about U. S hyper-puissance.

    Gordon Brown, Charlie Whelan and Me

  • Pardon me, however, that, being a soldier upon my post, with my lance in my hand, I may not give to one of thy puissance the advantage of coming within my guard, or of mastering my weapon.

    The Talisman

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  • "Important people came in from the farther corners of the Barony, and there were a good many Conversationals leading up to the main Conversational on Reaping Day. Susan was expeccted to be present at these--mostly as a decorative testimony to the Mayor's continuing puissance." From Wizard and Glass by Stephen King.

    January 28, 2011

  • "Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a time when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter today?
    - H. L. Mencken, 'Where is the graveyard of dead gods?'

    September 29, 2008

  • This word is one of the few that is wholly Shakespearean in my view.

    I also like to say "wholly."

    April 28, 2008