Definitions

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

  • adjective Capable of being but not yet in existence; latent or undeveloped.
  • adjective Grammar Of, relating to, or being a verbal construction with auxiliaries such as may or can; for example, it may snow.
  • noun The inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or future success.
  • noun The possibility that something might happen or result from given conditions.
  • noun Grammar A potential verb form.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In electricity, an incorrect abbreviation of potential difference, or electric pressure.
  • Potent; powerful; mighty.
  • Possible, as opposed to actual; capable of being or becoming; capable of coming into full being or manifestation.
  • In physics, existing in a positional form, not as motion: especially in the phrase potential energy.
  • In grammar, expressing power or possibility: as, the potential mode; potential forms.
  • See phrase under participle
  • noun Anything that may be possible; a possibility.
  • noun In dynamics: The sum of the products of all the pairs of masses of a system, each product divided by the distance between the pair.
  • noun More generally, the line-integral of the attractions of a conservative system from a fixed configuration to its actual configuration; the work that would be done by a system of attracting and repelling masses (obeying the law of energy) in moving from situations infinitely remote from one another (or from any other fixed situations) to their actual situation.
  • noun In electrostatics, at any point near or within an electrified body, the quantity of work necessary to bring a unit of positive electricity from an infinite distance to that point, the given distribution of electricity remaining unaltered. See equipotential.
  • noun A scalar quantity distributed through space in such a way that its slope represents a given vector quantity distributed through space.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Anything that may be possible; a possibility; potentially.
  • noun (Math.) In the theory of gravitation, or of other forces acting in space, a function of the rectangular coordinates which determine the position of a point, such that its differential coefficients with respect to the coördinates are equal to the components of the force at the point considered; -- also called potential function, or force function. It is called also Newtonian potential when the force is directed to a fixed center and is inversely as the square of the distance from the center.
  • noun (Elec.) The energy of an electrical charge measured by its power to do work; hence, the degree of electrification as referred to some standard, as that of the earth; electro-motive force.
  • adjective obsolete Being potent; endowed with energy adequate to a result; efficacious; influential.
  • adjective Existing in possibility, not in actuality.
  • adjective See under Cautery.
  • adjective (Mech.) See the Note under Energy.
  • adjective (Gram.) that form of the verb which is used to express possibility, liberty, power, will, obligation, or necessity, by the use of may, can, must, might, could, would, or should; as, I may go; he can write.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Currently unrealized ability (with the most common adposition being to)
  • noun physics The work (energy) required to bring a unit positive electric charge from an infinite distance to a specified point against an electric field.
  • noun grammar A verbal construction or form stating something is possible or probable.
  • adjective Existing in possibility, not in actuality.
  • adjective archaic Being potent; endowed with energy adequate to a result; efficacious; influential.
  • adjective physics A potential field is an irrotational (static) field.
  • adjective physics A potential flow is an irrotational flow.
  • adjective grammar Referring to a verbal construction of form stating something is possible or probable.

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

  • noun the inherent capacity for coming into being
  • adjective existing in possibility
  • adjective expected to become or be; in prospect
  • noun the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts

Etymologies

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

[Middle English potencial, from Old French potenciel, from Late Latin potentiālis, powerful, from Latin potentia, power, from potēns, potent-, present participle of posse, to be able; see potent.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Late Latin potentialis, from Latin potentia ("power"), from potens ("powerful"); see potent.

Examples

Comments

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  • Po-Te-N-Ti-Al (polonium, tellurium, nitrogen, thallium, aluminium).

    February 3, 2013