strength

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English strengthe, from Old English strengþu (strength), from Proto-Germanic *strangiþō (strongness; strength), equivalent to strong +‎ -th. Cognate with Dutch strengte (strength), German Low German Strengde, Strengte (harshness; rigidity; strictness; severity). Written strenght in the 1534 Tyndale English translation of the Bible.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

strength (countable and uncountable, plural strengths)

  1. The quality or degree of being strong.
    It requires great strength to lift heavy objects.
    • c. 1605, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5,[1]
      Our castle’s strength will laugh a siege to scorn.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 5, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      He was thinking; but the glory of the song, the swell from the great organ, the clustered lights, […], the height and vastness of this noble fane, its antiquity and its strength—all these things seemed to have their part as causes of the thrilling emotion that accompanied his thoughts.
  2. The intensity of a force or power; potency.
    He had the strength of ten men.
  3. The strongest part of something; that on which confidence or reliance is based.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Psalm 46.1,[2]
      God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
    • 1649, Jeremy Taylor, The Great Examplar of Sanctity and Holy Life according to the Christian Institution, London: Francis Ash, Part 1, Section 4, Discourse 2, p. 66,[3]
      [] certainly there is not in the world a greater strength against temptations, then is deposited in an obedient understanding [] .
  4. A positive attribute.
    We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.
  5. (obsolete) Armed force, body of troops.
  6. (obsolete) A strong place; a stronghold.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 7, lines 140-143,[6]
      All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
      This inaccessible high strength, the seat
      Of Deitie supream, us dispossest,
      He trusted to have seis’d []

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Verb[edit]

strength (third-person singular simple present strengths, present participle strengthing, simple past and past participle strengthed)

  1. (obsolete) To give strength to; to strengthen. [12th-17th c.]
    • 1395, John Wycliffe, Bible, Job IV:
      Lo! thou hast tauȝt ful many men, and thou hast strengthid hondis maad feynt.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)