See more synonyms for capacity on
noun, plural ca·pac·i·ties.
  1. the ability to receive or contain: This hotel has a large capacity.
  2. the maximum amount or number that can be received or contained; cubic contents; volume: The inn is filled to capacity. The gasoline tank has a capacity of 20 gallons.
  3. power of receiving impressions, knowledge, etc.; mental ability: the capacity to learn calculus.
  4. actual or potential ability to perform, yield, or withstand: He has a capacity for hard work. The capacity of the oil well was 150 barrels a day. She has the capacity to go two days without sleep.
  5. quality or state of being susceptible to a given treatment or action: Steel has a high capacity to withstand pressure.
  6. position; function; role: He served in the capacity of legal adviser.
  7. legal qualification.
  8. Electricity.
    1. capacitance.
    2. maximum possible output.
  1. reaching maximum capacity: a capacity audience; a capacity crowd.

Origin of capacity

1375–1425; late Middle English capacite < Middle French < Latin capācitāt- (stem of capācitās), equivalent to capāci-, stem of capāx roomy (cap(ere) to hold + -āci- adj. suffix) + -tāt- -ty2
Can be confusedability capacity

Synonyms for capacity

See more synonyms for on
2. dimensions, amplitude. 3. endowment, talent, gifts. 4. aptitude, adequacy, competence, capability. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for capacities

Contemporary Examples of capacities

Historical Examples of capacities

  • Doubtless his new ethereal form has its capacities and privileges.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • The form of union is but a symbol of the people's character, their desires, and capacities.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • The virtues and capacities of these my comrades will always haunt my imagination.

  • Within the limit of their capacities they can do many things.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

  • Well, first of all I thought I ought to show her the capacities of our house.

British Dictionary definitions for capacities


noun plural -ties
  1. the ability or power to contain, absorb, or hold
  2. the amount that can be contained; volumea capacity of six gallons
    1. the maximum amount something can contain or absorb (esp in the phrase filled to capacity)
    2. (as modifier)a capacity crowd
  3. the ability to understand or learn; aptitude; capabilityhe has a great capacity for Greek
  4. the ability to do or produce (often in the phrase at capacity)the factory's output was not at capacity
  5. a specified position or functionhe was employed in the capacity of manager
  6. a measure of the electrical output of a piece of apparatus such as a motor, generator, or accumulator
  7. electronics a former name for capacitance
  8. computing
    1. the number of words or characters that can be stored in a particular storage device
    2. the range of numbers that can be processed in a register
  9. the bit rate that a communication channel or other system can carry
  10. legal competencethe capacity to make a will

Word Origin for capacity

C15: from Old French capacite, from Latin capācitās, from capāx spacious, from capere to take
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

Word Origin and History for capacities



early 15c., from Middle French capacité "ability to hold" (15c.), from Latin capacitatem (nominative capacitas) "breadth, capacity, capability of holding much," noun of state from capax (genitive capacis) "able to hold much," from capere "to take" (see capable). Meaning "largest audience a place can hold" is 1908.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

capacities in Medicine


  1. The measure of potential cubic contents of a cavity or receptacle; volume.
  2. Ability to perform or produce; capability.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.