What does Potential mean?

Definitions for Potential
pəˈtɛn ʃəlpo·ten·tial

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word Potential.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. potential, potentiality, potencynoun

    the inherent capacity for coming into being

  2. electric potential, potential, potential difference, potential drop, voltageadjective

    the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts

  3. potential, possibleadjective

    existing in possibility

    "a potential problem"; "possible uses of nuclear power"

  4. likely, potentialadjective

    expected to become or be; in prospect

    "potential clients"


  1. potentialnoun

    Currently unrealized ability.

    Even from a young age it was clear that she had great musical potential.

  2. potentialnoun

    The gravitational potential is the radial (irrotational, static) component of a gravitational field, also known as the Newtonian potential or the gravitoelectric field.

  3. potentialnoun

    The work (energy) required to bring a unit positive electric charge from an infinite distance to a specified point against an electric field.

  4. potentialnoun

    A verbal construction or form stating something is possible or probable.

  5. potentialadjective

    Existing in possibility, not in actuality.

  6. potentialadjective

    Being potent; endowed with energy adequate to a result; efficacious; influential.

  7. potentialadjective

    A potential field is an irrotational (static) field.

    From Maxwell equations (6.20) it follows that the electric field is potential: E(r)uE000128544uE001=uE000128545uEgradu03C6(r).uE000128546uE001

  8. potentialadjective

    A potential flow is an irrotational flow.

    The non-viscous flow of the vacuum should be potential (irrotational).uE000128547uE001

  9. potentialadjective

    Referring to a verbal construction of form stating something is possible or probable.

  10. Etymology: From potentialis, from potentia, from potens; see potent.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Potentialadjective

    Etymology: potenciel, Fr. potentialis, Latin.

    This potential and imaginary materia prima cannot exist without form. Walter Raleigh, Hist. of the World.

    The magnifico is much belov’d,
    And hath in his effect a voice potential,
    As double as the duke’s. William Shakespeare, Othello.

    Ice doth not only submit unto actual heat, but indureth not the potential calidity of many waters. Brown.

    Thou must make a dullard of the world,
    If they not thought the profits of my death
    Were very pregnant and potential spurs
    To make thee seek it. William Shakespeare.


  1. potential

    Potential generally refers to the inherent capacity or ability something possesses that could be developed or lead to future success or usefulness. It can also refer to the possibility or likelihood of an event occurring. It is often used in various fields such as physics, where it could mean the amount of electric or gravitational potential energy per unit at a specific location, or in psychology, where it could refer to a person's ability to acquire new skills or knowledge. Hence, its specific definition may vary based on context.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Potentialadjective

    being potent; endowed with energy adequate to a result; efficacious; influential

  2. Potentialadjective

    existing in possibility, not in actuality

  3. Potentialnoun

    anything that may be possible; a possibility; potentially

  4. Potentialnoun

    in the theory of gravitation, or of other forces acting in space, a function of the rectangular coordinates which determine the position of a point, such that its differential coefficients with respect to the coordinates are equal to the components of the force at the point considered; -- also called potential function, or force function. It is called also Newtonian potential when the force is directed to a fixed center and is inversely as the square of the distance from the center

  5. Potentialnoun

    the energy of an electrical charge measured by its power to do work; hence, the degree of electrification as referred to some standard, as that of the earth; electro-motive force

  6. Etymology: [Cf. F. potentiel. See Potency.]


  1. Potential

    Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics to the social sciences to indicate things that are in a state where they are able to change in ways ranging from the simple release of energy by objects to the realization of abilities in people. Examples include: In linguistics, the potential mood The mathematical study of potentials is known as potential theory; it is the study of harmonic functions on manifolds. This mathematical formulation arises from the fact that, in physics, the scalar potential is irrotational, and thus has a vanishing Laplacian — the very definition of a harmonic function. In physics, a potential may refer to the scalar potential or to the vector potential. In either case, it is a field defined in space, from which many important physical properties may be derived. Leading examples are the gravitational potential and the electric potential, from which the motion of gravitating or electrically charged bodies may be obtained. Specific forces have associated potentials, including the Coulomb potential, the van der Waals potential, the Lennard-Jones potential and the Yukawa potential. In electrochemistry there are Galvani potential, Volta potential, electrode potential, standard electrode potential.In Thermodynamics potential refers to thermodynamic potential.

The Standard Electrical Dictionary

  1. Potential

    Potential in general may be treated as an attribute of a point in space, and may express the potential energy which a unit mass would have if placed at that point. This conception of potential is that of a property attributable to a point in space, such that if a unit mass were placed there the forces acting upon it would supply the force factor of energy, while the body would supply the mass factor. This property is expressible in units, which produce, if the supposed mass is a unit mass, units of work or energy, but potential itself is neither. Thus taking gravitation, a pound mass on the surface of the earth (assuming it to be a sphere of 4,000 miles radius) would require the expenditure of 21,120,000 foot pounds to remove it to an infinite distance against gravity. The potential of a point in space upon the surface of the earth is therefore negative and is represented by -21,120,000*32.2 foot poundals (32.2 = acceleration of gravity). (See Poundal.) In practice and conventionally all points on the earth's surface are taken as of zero potential. [Transcriber's note; 21,120,000 foot pounds is about 8 KWh.]

Editors Contribution

  1. potentialnoun

    Positive order used to represent dialectal speech supported by one or more primordial poles. 0.) Having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future. 1.) Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness. 2.) The quantity determining the energy of mass in gravitational field or of charge in an electric field.

    I based my potential on my energy of being whom I am.

    Etymology: Gifted

    Submitted by Tehorah_Elyon on March 12, 2024  

  2. potential

    The ability or capacity to create.

    The potential for the future use of the software was so clear, we were delighted.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 19, 2020  

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Potential' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1558

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Potential' in Written Corpus Frequency: #2792

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Potential' in Nouns Frequency: #965

  4. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Potential' in Adjectives Frequency: #189

How to pronounce Potential?

How to say Potential in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of Potential in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of Potential in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of Potential in a Sentence

  1. Sam Stovall:

    It is trade and the effect of trade. The problem is right now it is what I call an 'unquantifiable potential outcome' - so nobody really knows what is going to happen, all we know is there is increasingly heated rhetoric regarding trade and if we are not careful we end up in a trade war that will definitely slow economic growth and possibly push us into recession.

  2. Shane MacGuill:

    India is obviously a market of huge potential for vapour products, this ban would decisively cut off access to that potential growth cohort for companies like Juul Labs and PMI (Philip Morris International).

  3. Rob Morris:

    Given how much bigger China is today as a part of the global economy and the global airline traffic, the potential for impact is clearly much greater than it was for SARS back in the 2000s.

  4. Kelly Rethmeyer:

    That's what made so many organizations vulnerable to this potential problem.

  5. President Alberto Fernandez:

    We're getting close and think there's quite a lot of potential upside, particularly as money flows back into emerging markets and Argentina will benefit as it's a high yield, liquid credit, we think a deal will be done in the next week and a half. It seems that everyone wants to move on from this.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for Potential

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"Potential." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 Jul 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/Potential>.

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