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[pou-er-fuh l] /ˈpaʊ ər fəl/
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
First recorded in 1350-1400, powerful is from the Middle English word powarfull. See power, -ful
Related forms
powerfully, adverb
powerfulness, noun
overpowerful, adjective
overpowerfully, adverb
overpowerfulness, noun
quasi-powerful, adjective
quasi-powerfully, adverb
superpowerful, adjective
ultrapowerful, adjective
unpowerful, adjective
1. forceful, strong. Powerful, mighty, potent suggest great force or strength. Powerful suggests capability of exerting great force or overcoming strong resistance: a powerful machine like a bulldozer. Mighty, now chiefly rhetorical, implies uncommon or overwhelming strength of power: a mighty army. Potent implies great natural or inherent power: a potent influence. 5. influential, convincing, forcible, cogent, effective.
1. weak. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for powerfully
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was a powerfully built man, with keen gray eyes deeply set in their sockets.

    My Lady of the North Randall Parrish
  • Bound though he was, he swung his feet upward suddenly and powerfully.

    Owen Clancy's Happy Trail Burt L. Standish
  • Our new Constitution is powerfully attacked in the American newspapers.

  • The latter tends directly and powerfully to counteract the former.

    Select Temperance Tracts American Tract Society
  • Jim Podmore's drowsiness coming upon him powerfully here, he had as much as he could do to keep himself awake.

    London's Heart B. L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon
British Dictionary definitions for powerfully


having great power, force, potency, or effect
extremely effective or efficient in action: a powerful drug, a powerful lens
(dialect) large or great: a powerful amount of trouble
(dialect) extremely; very: he ran powerful fast
Derived Forms
powerfully, adverb
powerfulness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for powerfully



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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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