[ poht-nt ]
/ ˈpoʊt nt /
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See synonyms for: potent / potents on Thesaurus.com

powerful; mighty: a potent fighting force.
cogent; persuasive: Several potent arguments were in his favor.
producing powerful physical or chemical effects: a potent drug.
having or exercising great power or influence: a potent factor in the economy.
(of a male) capable of sexual intercourse.
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Origin of potent

First recorded in 1490–1500; from Latin potent- (stem of potēns), present participle of posse “to be able, have power”; see -ent

synonym study for potent

1. See powerful.


po·tent·ly, adverbpo·tent·ness, noun

Other definitions for potent (2 of 2)

[ poht-nt ]
/ ˈpoʊt nt /

a fur having a pattern of T-shaped forms, placed in alternate directions and having alternating tinctures, one metal and one color, so that all forms of one tincture face the same way and are between, above, and below forms of the other tincture facing the other way.
a T-shaped form used in potent or counterpotent.
(of a cross) having a crosspiece at the extremity of each arm: a cross potent.

Origin of potent

1325–75; Middle English potente crutch, variant of potence<French crutch, support <Medieval Latin potentia,Latin: power, potency
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does potent mean?

Potent means strong, powerful, and effective.

It’s commonly applied to things that produce a powerful physical or chemical effect, especially medications and drugs.

It can also be used in a more general way to describe the power or effectiveness of someone or something, such as a leader or a statement.

The noun form of potent is potency.

Example: The medicine is extremely potent, which means that it needs to be used very carefully according to the instructions.

Where does potent come from?

The first records of the word potent come from around the 1300s. It ultimately derives from the Latin potentia, meaning “power.” The word potential comes from the same root.

Potent is perhaps most commonly used in a medical context, in which it’s used to describe something that can have a strong effect on the body. A potent drug is one that will have a very strong effect. For example, some strains of cannabis are more potent than others. When a drug is said to become more or less potent under certain circumstances, this means it becomes stronger or weaker depending on those conditions. While the word is usually used in reference to a drug, it can also be used in reference to a disease. A disease can become more or less potent when it mutates, for example.

More generally, potent is used to describe someone or something strong or powerful. An argument is potent if it is forceful and persuasive. A leader can be described as potent if they wield power effectively. A pungent smell can be described as potent. A strong alcoholic drink might also be called potent, as in Wow, those were some potent potables, Alex!

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What are some other forms related to potent?

  • potency (noun)
  • potently (adverb)
  • potentness (noun)

What are some synonyms for potent?

What are some words that share a root or word element with potent


What are some words that often get used in discussing potent?


How is potent used in real life?

Potent can be used in many different contexts, but it’s most commonly used in relation to how powerful a drug is.



Try using potent!

Is potent used correctly in the following sentence? 

The medication will become less potent if kept in the sunlight.

How to use potent in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for potent (1 of 2)

/ (ˈpəʊtənt) /

possessing great strength; powerful
(of arguments, etc) persuasive or forceful
influential or authoritative
tending to produce violent physical or chemical effectsa potent poison
(of a male) capable of having sexual intercourse

Derived forms of potent

potently, adverbpotentness, noun

Word Origin for potent

C15: from Latin potēns able, from posse to be able

British Dictionary definitions for potent (2 of 2)

/ (ˈpəʊtənt) /

heraldry (of a cross) having flat bars across the ends of the arms

Word Origin for potent

C17: from obsolete potent a crutch, from Latin potentia power
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

Medical definitions for potent

[ pōtnt ]

Exerting or capable of exerting strong physiological or chemical effects.
Able to perform sexual intercourse. Used of a male.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.