[ puh-ten-shuh l ]
/ pəˈtɛn ʃəl /



Origin of potential

1350–1400; Middle English potencial (< Old French) < Late Latin potentiālis. See potency, -al1

SYNONYMS FOR potential

2 See latent.
5 capacity, potency.


non·po·ten·tial, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for potential

British Dictionary definitions for potential

/ (pəˈtɛnʃəl) /


  1. possible but not yet actual
  2. (prenominal) capable of being or becoming but not yet in existence; latent
grammar (of a verb or form of a verb) expressing possibility, as English may and might
an archaic word for potent 1


latent but unrealized ability or capacityJones has great potential as a sales manager
grammar a potential verb or verb form

Derived forms of potential

potentially, adverb

Word Origin for potential

C14: from Old French potencial, from Late Latin potentiālis, 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

Medicine definitions for potential

[ pə-tĕnshəl ]


Capable of being but not yet in existence; latent.


The inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being.
The work required to bring a unit electric charge, magnetic pole, or mass from an infinitely distant position to a designated point in a static electric, magnetic, or gravitational field, respectively.
The potential energy of a unit charge at any point in an electric circuit measured with respect to a specified reference point in the circuit or to ground; voltage.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.