- having or exerting great power or force.
- physically strong, as a person: a large, powerful athlete.
- producing great physical effects, as a machine or a blow.
- potent; efficacious: a powerful drug.
- having great effectiveness, as a speech, speaker, description, reason, etc.
- having great power, authority, or influence; mighty: a powerful nation.
- Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. great in number or amount: a powerful lot of money.
Origin of powerful
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for powerful
They carved a refuge out of the wilderness and then, in 200 years, built it into the most powerful nation on earth.Mario Cuomo, Always Moving Us Toward the Light
January 4, 2015
In memoriam, Parker Molloy writes a powerful letter to Leelah.Six Must-Read Stories About Gay Mormon Husbands and Iranian Drug Wars
The Daily Beast
January 3, 2015
It might be the most powerful affirmation, and perhaps even a feminist or political statement, from any public person this year.
It was fearless and raunchy and fun and ridiculous and weird and feminist and powerful.
But taking such action puts them at odds with the most powerful and best-organized segment of their coalition.How Public Sector Unions Divide the Democrats
December 29, 2014
It secures us against all future annoyance from powerful Indian tribes.
Mr. Robert Lowe, a Liberal, became one of its most powerful assailants.The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
It isn't true that the weak and poor are to be envied beyond the powerful.The Bacillus of Beauty
The simplest child he would no more offend than the most powerful man.Ridgeway
Strange, that the mere identity of paper and ink should be so powerful.A Book of Autographs
- having great power, force, potency, or effect
- extremely effective or efficient in actiona powerful drug; a powerful lens
- dialect large or greata powerful amount of trouble
- dialect extremely; veryhe ran powerful fast
Word Origin and History for powerful
c.1400, from power (n.) + -ful. Meaning "of great quality or number" is from 1811; colloquial sense of "exceedingly" (adv.) is from 1822. Related: Powerfully. Thornton ("American Glossary") notes powerful as "Much used by common people in the sense of very," along with monstrous and cites curious expressions such as devilish good, monstrous pretty (1799), dreadful polite, cruel pretty, abominable fine (1803), "or when a young lady admires a lap dog for being so vastly small and declares him prodigious handsome" (1799).