• Power


    • RP IPA: /ˈpaʊ̯.ə(ɹ)/, /ˈpaʊ̯ə(ɹ)/
    • GenAm IPA: /ˈpaʊ̯.ɚ/, /ˈpaʊ̯ɚ/
    • Rhymes: -aʊ.ə(ɹ), -aʊə(ɹ)
    • Hyphenation: pow + er

    Alternative forms


    From Middle English poer, from Old French poer, from Medieval Latin *potere, for Latin posse ("to be able"); see potent.

    Full definition of power



    (countable and uncountable; plural powers)
    1. (social) Effectiveness.
      1. (countable) Capability or influence.
        • Fielding Tom Jones|III|ii
      2. 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.
        • Fielding Tom Jones|III|iii
      3. 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, w, Lord Stranleigh Abroad Chapter 4, 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 NowPast 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.
      4. Control, particularly legal or political (jurisdiction).
      5. 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
      6. In the face of expanding federal power, California in particular struggled to maintain control over its Chinese population.
        • 2013-08-10, Can China clean up fast enough?, 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.
      7. (chiefly in the plural) The people in charge of legal or political power, the government.
      8. Influential nations, companies, or other such bodies.
        • 2013-08-16, John Vidal, Dams endanger ecology of Himalayas, 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.
    2. (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, w, Lord Stranleigh Abroad Chapter 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.
        • 2013-07-20, Out of the gloom, 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. A rate to magnify an optical image by a lens or mirror.
        We need a microscope with higher power.
      5. (mathematics) Effectiveness.
        1. A product of equal factors. Notation and usage: xn, read as "x to the power of n" or "x to the nth power", denotes x × x × ... × x, in which x appears n times, where n is called the exponent; the definition is extended to non-integer and complex exponents.
        2. (set theory) Cardinality.
        3. (statistics) The probability that a statistical test will reject the null hypothesis when the alternative hypothesis is true.
      6. (biblical) In Christian angelology, the fourth level of angels, ranked above archangels and below principalities.

    Usage notes

    Adjectives often used with "power": electric, nuclear, solar, 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.

    Related terms


    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, 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.
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