1. having or exerting great power or force.
  2. physically strong, as a person: a large, powerful athlete.
  3. producing great physical effects, as a machine or a blow.
  4. potent; efficacious: a powerful drug.
  5. having great effectiveness, as a speech, speaker, description, reason, etc.
  6. having great power, authority, or influence; mighty: a powerful nation.
  7. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. great in number or amount: a powerful lot of money.

Origin of powerful

First recorded in 1350–1400, powerful is from the Middle English word powarfull. See power, -ful
Related formspow·er·ful·ly, adverbpow·er·ful·ness, nouno·ver·pow·er·ful, adjectiveo·ver·pow·er·ful·ly, adverbo·ver·pow·er·ful·ness, nounqua·si-pow·er·ful, adjectivequa·si-pow·er·ful·ly, adverbsu·per·pow·er·ful, adjectiveul·tra·pow·er·ful, adjectiveun·pow·er·ful, adjective

Synonyms for powerful

1. forceful, strong. Powerful, mighty, potent suggest great force or strength. Powerful suggests capability of exerting great force or overcoming strong resistance: a powerful machine like a bulldozer. Mighty, now chiefly rhetorical, implies uncommon or overwhelming strength of power: a mighty army. Potent implies great natural or inherent power: a potent influence. 5. influential, convincing, forcible, cogent, effective.

Antonyms for powerful

1. weak.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for unpowerful


  1. having great power, force, potency, or effect
  2. extremely effective or efficient in actiona powerful drug; a powerful lens
  3. dialect large or greata powerful amount of trouble
  1. dialect extremely; veryhe ran powerful fast
Derived Formspowerfully, adverbpowerfulness, noun
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 unpowerful



c.1400, from power (n.) + -ful. Meaning "of great quality or number" is from 1811; colloquial sense of "exceedingly" (adv.) is from 1822. Related: Powerfully. Thornton ("American Glossary") notes powerful as "Much used by common people in the sense of very," along with monstrous and cites curious expressions such as devilish good, monstrous pretty (1799), dreadful polite, cruel pretty, abominable fine (1803), "or when a young lady admires a lap dog for being so vastly small and declares him prodigious handsome" (1799).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper