[ pou-er ]
See synonyms for: powerpoweredpoweringpowers on Thesaurus.com

  1. ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something: Everyone has the power to better themselves.

  2. political or national strength: The Second World War changed the balance of power in Europe.

  1. great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force.

  2. the possession of control or command over people; authority; influence: Words have tremendous power over our minds.

  3. political ascendancy or control in the government of a country, state, etc.: They attained power by overthrowing the legal government.

  4. legal ability, capacity, or authority: the legislative powers vested in Congress.

  5. delegated authority; authority granted to a person or persons in a particular office or capacity: a delegate with power to mediate disputes.

  6. a document or written statement conferring legal authority.

  7. a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence.

  8. a state or nation having international authority or influence: The great powers held an international conference.

  9. a military or naval force: The Spanish Armada was a mighty power.

  10. Often pow·ers . a deity; divinity: the heavenly powers.

  11. pow·ers, Theology. an order of angels.: Compare angel (def. 1).

  12. Dialect. a large number or amount: There's a power of good eatin' at the church social.

  13. Physics.

    • work done or energy transferred per unit of time. Symbol: P

    • the time rate of doing work.

  14. mechanical energy as distinguished from hand labor: The factory recently began using looms driven by power.

  15. a particular form of mechanical or physical energy: hydroelectric power.

  16. energy, force, or momentum: The door slammed shut, seemingly under its own power.

  17. Mathematics.

    • the product obtained by multiplying a quantity by itself one or more times: The third power of 2 is 8.

    • (of a number x) a number whose logarithm is a times the logarithm of x (and is called the ath power of x). Symbolically, y =xa is a number that satisfies the equation log y = a log x.

    • the exponent of an expression, as a in xa.

  18. Optics.

    • the magnifying capacity of a microscope, telescope, etc., expressed as the ratio of the diameter of the image to the diameter of the object.: Compare magnification (def. 2).

    • the reciprocal of the focal length of a lens.

verb (used with object)
  1. to supply with electricity or other means of power: Atomic energy powers the new submarines.

  2. to give power to; make powerful: An outstanding quarterback powered the team in its upset victory.

  1. to inspire; spur; sustain: A strong faith in divine goodness powers his life.

  2. (of a fuel, engine, or any source able to do work) to supply force to operate (a machine): An electric motor powers this drill.

  3. to drive or push by applying power: She powered the car expertly up the winding mountain road.

  1. operated or driven by a motor or electricity: a power mower;power tools.

  2. power-assisted: cars with power brakes and power windows.

  1. conducting electricity: a power cable.

  2. Informal. expressing or exerting power, especially in business; involving or characteristic of those having authority or influence: She dressed for court in hose, heels, and a conservative power suit.The corporate-sponsored lobbyists are fueled by power breakfasts of ice-cold orange juice and croissants.

Verb Phrases
  1. power down, Computers. to shut off.

  2. power up, Computers. to turn on.

Idioms about power

  1. the powers that be, those in supreme command; the authorities: The decision is in the hands of the powers that be.

  2. power behind the throne, someone or something that has a great deal of influence and control despite lacking official status: Although the chairman is ostensibly in charge, his secretary makes all the decisions and is the real power behind the throne.

Origin of power

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English poair(e), poer(e), poeir, power, from Anglo-French, Old French po(u)eir, poer, poor, noun use of infinitive poe(i)r, pooir “to be able,” from Vulgar Latin potēre (unrecorded), replacing Latin posse “to be able, have power”; cf. potent1, puissant

synonym study For power

3. See strength.

Other words for power

Opposites for power

Other words from power

  • coun·ter·pow·er, noun
  • de-pow·er, verb (used with object)
  • re·pow·er, verb

Words Nearby power

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use power in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for power


/ (ˈpaʊə) /

  1. ability or capacity to do something

  2. (often plural) a specific ability, capacity, or faculty

  1. political, financial, social, etc, force or influence

  2. control or dominion or a position of control, dominion, or authority

  3. a state or other political entity with political, industrial, or military strength

  4. a person who exercises control, influence, or authority: he's a power in the state

  5. a prerogative, privilege, or liberty

    • legal authority to act, esp in a specified capacity, for another

    • the document conferring such authority

    • a military force

    • military potential

  6. maths

    • the value of a number or quantity raised to some exponent

    • another name for exponent (def. 4)

  7. statistics the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis in a test when it is false. The power of a test of a given null depends on the particular alternative hypothesis against which it is tested

  8. physics engineering a measure of the rate of doing work expressed as the work done per unit time. It is measured in watts, horsepower, etc: Symbol: P

    • the rate at which electrical energy is fed into or taken from a device or system. It is expressed, in a direct-current circuit, as the product of current and voltage and, in an alternating-current circuit, as the product of the effective values of the current and voltage and the cosine of the phase angle between them. It is measured in watts

    • (as modifier): a power amplifier

  9. the ability to perform work

    • mechanical energy as opposed to manual labour

    • (as modifier): a power mower

  10. a particular form of energy: nuclear power

    • a measure of the ability of a lens or optical system to magnify an object, equal to the reciprocal of the focal length. It is measured in dioptres

    • another word for magnification

  11. informal a large amount or quantity: a power of good

  12. (plural) the sixth of the nine orders into which the angels are traditionally divided in medieval angelology

  13. in one's power (often foll by an infinitive) able or allowed (to)

  14. in someone's power under the control or sway of someone

  15. the powers that be the established authority or administration

  1. to give or provide power to

  2. to fit (a machine) with a motor or engine

  1. (intr) slang to travel with great speed or force

Origin of power

C13: from Anglo-Norman poer, from Vulgar Latin potēre (unattested), from Latin posse to be able

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 power


[ pouər ]

  1. The source of energy used to operate a machine or other system.

  2. The rate at which work is done, or energy expended, per unit time. Power is usually measured in watts (especially for electrical power) or horsepower (especially for mechanical power). For a path conducting electrical current, such as a component in an electric circuit, P = VI, where P is the power dissipated along the path, V is the voltage across the path, and I is the current through the path. Compare energy work.

  1. Mathematics The number of times a number or expression is multiplied by itself, as shown by an exponent. Thus ten to the sixth power, or 106, equals one million.

  2. A number that represents the magnification of an optical instrument, such as a microscope or telescope. A 500-power microscope can magnify an image to 500 times its original size.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for power


In physics, the amount of energy put out or produced in a given amount of time. Power is often measured in watts or kilowatts.

In mathematics, a power is a number multiplied by itself the number of times signified by an exponent placed to the right and above it. Thus, 32, which means 3 × 3, is a power — the second power of three, or three squared, or nine. The expression 106, or ten to the sixth power, means 10 × 10 × 10 × 10 × 10 × 10, or one million.

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.

Other Idioms and Phrases with power


In addition to the idioms beginning with power

  • power behind the throne
  • powers that be, the

also see:

  • corridors of power
  • more power to someone
  • staying power

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.