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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English power, poer, from Old French poeir, from Vulgar Latin potēre, from Latin posse, whence English potent. Compare French pouvoir. Displaced the native Old English anweald.



power (countable and uncountable, plural powers)

  1. The ability to do or undergo something.
    • 1950 September, “Network News: Watford Tunnel, L.M.R.”, in Railway Magazine, page 641:
      On June 8, 1872, the London & North Western Railway obtained powers to quadruple its main line, and a new tunnel was bored for the up and down slow lines.
    • 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) The ability to coerce, influence, or control.
    • 2022 March 8, “Magistrate Yang Wen-ke Sends Female Staff in Hsinchu County Government Roses for Their Contributions”, in HsinChu County Government[1], archived from the original on 19 July 2022:
      The proportion of female colleagues in the Hsinchu County Government and its affiliated units has reached 61%. “Women Power” is the power behind over half of the services provided by the county government.
    1. (countable) The ability to affect or influence.
      • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume III, London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC, book ii:
        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.
      • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume III, London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC, book iii:
        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[2]:
        [] 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, George Orwell [pseudonym; 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 April, Columbia Law Review:
        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
      • 1978 November 17, 1:30:50 from the start, in The Star Wars Holiday Special[3] (Science Fiction), spoken by Carrie Fisher, →OCLC:
        No matter how different we appear, we're all the same in our struggle against the powers of evil and darkness. I hope that this day will always be a day of joy in which we can reconfirm our dedication and our courage and more than anything else, our love for one another. This is the promise of the Tree of Life.
    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.
    5. (metonymically, archaic) An army, a military force.
      • 1577, Raphaell Holinshed, The Firste Volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande [], volume I, London: [] [Henry Bynneman] for Iohn Harrison, →OCLC:
        The threatning words of duke Robert comming at the last to king Henries eares, caused him foorthwith to conceiue verie sore displeasure against the duke, in so much that he sent ouer a power of men into Normandie, which finding no great resistance, did much hurt in the countrie, by fetching and carieng spoiles and preies.
      • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act II, scene i:
        Then when our powers in points of ſwords are ioin’d
        And cloſde in compaſſe of the killing bullet,
        Though ſtraite the paſſage and the port be made,
        That leads to Pallace of my brothers life,
        Proud is his fortune if we pierce it not.
  3. (physical, uncountable) Effectiveness.
    She's a power shopper; she knows all the best deals.
    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[4]:
        “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.
    • 1872, Mark Twain, Roughing It:
      Don't you mind my snuffling a little—becuz we're in a power of trouble.
  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. (trucking) A tractor.
    The set I'm making right now needs a power on it, but we don't have any tractors left in the yard.
  7. (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.
  8. (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.
  9. (biblical, in the plural) In Christian angelology, an intermediate level of angels, ranked above archangels, but exact position varies by classification scheme.


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)



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. 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[5]:
      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[6]:
      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[7]:
      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[8]:
      Their performance is very the Power!
    • 2010, Caihong Lim, Kesheng Lim, Footprints All Over: Love, Happiness,Joy[9]:
      His hokkien is damn power lah!
    • 2015, SGMOJI, Your Ultimate Guide to Locally-Grown Emojis[10], archived from the original on 4 March 2016:
      Eh his soccer skills damn power one.

Further reading[edit]

  • power”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.



Etymology 1[edit]

Borrowed from French pauvre, from Latin pauper.


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


power (strong nominative masculine singular powerer, 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
  • power” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache