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From Middle English capacite, from Old French capacite, from Latin capācitās, from capāx (able to hold much), from capiō (to hold, to contain, to take, to understand).


  • IPA(key): /kəˈpæsɪti/
  • (file)


capacity (countable and uncountable, plural capacities)

  1. The ability to hold, receive, or absorb
  2. A measure of such ability; volume
  3. The maximum amount that can be held
    It was hauling a capacity load.
    The orchestra played to a capacity crowd.
    A factory operating at less than full capacity.
  4. Capability; the ability to perform some task
    • 1929, Coolidge, Calvin, The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge[1], New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, →OCLC, page 171:
      Surprisingly few men are lacking in capacity, but they fail because they are lacking in application. Either they never learn how to work, or, having learned, they are too indolent to apply themselves with the seriousness and the attention that is necessary to solve important problems.
  5. The maximum that can be produced.
  6. Mental ability; the power to learn
  7. A faculty; the potential for growth and development
  8. A role; the position in which one functions
  9. Legal authority (to make an arrest for example)
  10. Electrical capacitance.
  11. (operations) The maximum that can be produced on a machine or in a facility or group.
    Its capacity rating was 150 tons per hour, but its actual maximum capacity was 200 tons per hour.


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  1. Filling the allotted space.
    There will be a capacity crowd at Busch stadium for the sixth game.
    • 2012, August 1. Owen Gibson in Guardian Unlimited, London 2012: rowers Glover and Stanning win Team GB's first gold medal
      At an overcast Eton Dorney, roared on by a capacity crowd including Prince Harry and Prince William, the volume rose as they entered the final stages.
    • 2021 May 15, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 0-1 Leicester”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      This was the day atmosphere, emotion and deafening noise returned to English football as 21,000 supporters made Wembley sound like it was playing host to a capacity crowd.

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