Dictionary.com

potential energy

[ puh-ten-shuhl en-er-jee ]
/ pəˈtɛn ʃəl ˈɛn ər dʒi /
Save This Word!

noun Physics.
the energy of a body or a system with respect to the position of the body or the arrangement of the particles of the system.

COMPARE MEANINGS

Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.
QUIZ
WILL YOU SAIL OR STUMBLE ON THESE GRAMMAR QUESTIONS?
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.
Compare kinetic energy.

Origin of potential energy

First recorded in 1850–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use potential energy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for potential energy

potential energy

noun
the energy of a body or system as a result of its position in an electric, magnetic, or gravitational field. It is measured in joules (SI units), electronvolts, ergs, etcSymbol: E p, V, U, φ Abbreviation: PE
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

Scientific definitions for potential energy

potential energy

The energy possessed by a body as a result of its position or condition rather than its motion. A raised weight, coiled spring, or charged battery has potential energy. Compare kinetic energy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for potential energy

potential energy

The energy an object has because of its position, rather than its motion. An object held in a person's hand has potential energy, which turns to kinetic energy — the energy of motion — when the person lets it go, and it drops to the ground.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
FEEDBACK