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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English power, poer, from Old French poeir, from Vulgar Latin *potēre, from Latin possum, posse (to be able); see potent. Compare Modern French pouvoir. Displaced native Old English anweald.



power (countable and uncountable, plural powers)

  1. Ability to do or undergo something.
    • 2018, Marilyn McCord Adams, Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (page 74)
      If it is spirits who have power to suffer, it seems they would also have active powers to think and will.
  2. (social) Ability to coerce, influence or control.
    1. (countable) Ability to affect or influence.
      • An incident which happened about this time will set the characters of these two lads more fairly before the discerning reader than is in the power of the longest dissertation.
      • Thwackum, on the contrary, maintained that the human mind, since the fall, was nothing but a sink of iniquity, till purified and redeemed by grace. [] The favourite phrase of the former, was the natural beauty of virtue; that of the latter, was the divine power of grace.
      • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 4, in Lord Stranleigh Abroad[1]:
        [] That woman is stark mad, Lord Stranleigh. Her own father recognised it when he bereft her of all power in the great business he founded. […]”
      • 1998, Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
        Past and future obviously have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present.
    2. Control or coercion, particularly legal or political (jurisdiction).
      • 1949, Eric Blair, aka George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
        The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. [...] We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
      • 2005, Columbia Law Review, April
        In the face of expanding federal power, California in particular struggled to maintain control over its Chinese population.
      • 2013 August 10, “Can China clean up fast enough?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
        It has jailed environmental activists and is planning to limit the power of judicial oversight by handing a state-approved body a monopoly over bringing environmental lawsuits.
    3. (metonymically, chiefly in the plural) The people in charge of legal or political power, the government.
      Synonym: powers that be
    4. (metonymically) An influential nation, company, or other such body.
      • 2013 August 16, John Vidal, “Dams endanger ecology of Himalayas”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 10, page 8:
        Most of the Himalayan rivers have been relatively untouched by dams near their sources. Now the two great Asian powers, India and China, are rushing to harness them as they cut through some of the world's deepest valleys.
  3. (physical, uncountable) Effectiveness.
    1. Physical force or strength.
      He needed a lot of power to hit the ball out of the stadium.
    2. Electricity or a supply of electricity.
      After the pylons collapsed, this town was without power for a few days.
      • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 4, in Lord Stranleigh Abroad[2]:
        “My father had ideas about conservation long before the United States took it up. [] You preserve water in times of flood and freshet to be used for power or for irrigation throughout the year. […]”
      • 2013 July 20, “Out of the gloom”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
        [Rural solar plant] schemes are of little help to industry or other heavy users of electricity. Nor is solar power yet as cheap as the grid. For all that, the rapid arrival of electric light to Indian villages is long overdue. When the national grid suffers its next huge outage, as it did in July 2012 when hundreds of millions were left in the dark, look for specks of light in the villages.
    3. A measure of the rate of doing work or transferring energy.
    4. The strength by which a lens or mirror magnifies an optical image.
      We need a microscope with higher power.
  4. (colloquial, dated) A large amount or number.
  5. Any of the elementary forms or parts of machines: three primary (the lever, inclined plane, and pulley) and three secondary (the wheel-and-axle, wedge, and screw).
    the mechanical powers
  6. (physics, mechanics) A measure of the effectiveness that a force producing a physical effect has over time. If linear, the quotient of: (force multiplied by the displacement of or in an object) ÷ time. If rotational, the quotient of: (force multiplied by the angle of displacement) ÷ time.
  7. (mathematics)
    1. A product of equal factors (and generalizations of this notion): , read as " to the power of " or the like, is called a power and denotes the product , where appears times in the product; is called the base and the exponent.
    2. (set theory) Cardinality.
    3. (statistics) The probability that a statistical test will reject the null hypothesis when the alternative hypothesis is true.
  8. (biblical, in the plural) In Christian angelology, an intermediate level of angels, ranked above archangels, but exact position varies by classification scheme.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Adjectives often used with "power": electric, nuclear, optical, mechanical, political, absolute, corporate, institutional, military, economic, solar, magic, magical, huge, physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, sexual, seductive, coercive, erotic, natural, cultural, positive, negative, etc.


The terms below need to be checked and allocated to the definitions (senses) of the headword above. Each term should appear in the sense for which it is appropriate. For synonyms and antonyms you may use the templates {{syn|en|...}} or {{ant|en|...}}.
Terms synonymous with one or more senses of power (noun)
  • See also Thesaurus:power
  • Antonyms[edit]


    Terms derived from power (noun)

    Derived terms[edit]

    Related terms[edit]


    • German: Power
    • Welsh: pŵer


    The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

    See also[edit]

    Other terms used in arithmetic operations:

    Advanced hyperoperations: tetration, pentation, hexation


    power (third-person singular simple present powers, present participle powering, simple past and past participle powered)

    1. (transitive) To provide power for (a mechanical or electronic device).
      This CD player is powered by batteries.
    2. (transitive) To hit or kick something forcefully.
      • 2011 February 1, Mandeep Sanghera, “Man Utd 3 - 1 Aston Villa”, in BBC[3]:
        United keeper Edwin van der Sar was the unlikely provider as his clearance found Rooney, who had got ahead of last defender Richard Dunne, and the forward brilliantly controlled a ball coming from over his shoulder before powering a shot past Brad Friedel.
    3. To enable or provide the impetus for.
      • 2017 April 6, Samira Shackle, “On the frontline with Karachi’s ambulance drivers”, in the Guardian[4]:
        Abdul Sattar Edhi came to Karachi as a poor man from an Indian village in 1947. Starting with a small pharmacy tent, his work rapidly expanded, powered by donations from ordinary citizens.

    Derived terms[edit]



    power (comparative more power, superlative most power)

    1. (Singapore, colloquial) Impressive.
      • 2001, Thian, Makan Time[5]:
        Check out the POWER Mee Rebus & Lontong in this newly established Nasi Padang coffee shop at Market Street Carpark.
      • 2005, Bayya, Bayya Eats ... and Other Stuff[6]:
        Their performance is very the Power!
      • 2010, Caihong Lim & Kesheng Lim, Footprints All Over: Love, Happiness,Joy[7]:
        His hokkien is damn power lah!
      • 2015, SGMOJI, Your Ultimate Guide to Locally-Grown Emojis[8]:
        Eh his soccer skills damn power one.

    Further reading[edit]

    • power at OneLook Dictionary Search



    Etymology 1[edit]

    From French pauvre, from Latin pauper.


    • IPA(key): /ˈpoːvər/, [ˈpoːvɐ]
    • Hyphenation: po‧wer


    power (comparative powerer, superlative am powersten)

    1. (regional, informal) poor, miserable

    Etymology 2[edit]




    1. singular imperative of powern
    2. (colloquial) first-person singular present of powern

    Further reading[edit]

    • power” in Duden online