What does potential mean?

Definitions for potential
pəˈtɛn ʃəlpo·ten·tial

Here are all the possible meanings 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.

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. 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. Michael Horowitz:

    FOX NEWS EXCLUSIVE : TEXTS REVEAL FBI CLASHED WITH DOJ OVER BIASED SOURCE IN FISA APPLICATION USED TO SURVEIL TRUMP AIDE Other individuals included in the House GOPs request for information were former FBI Director James Comey, then-Special Agent Peter Strzok, and senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr -- who became a back channel between Christopher Steele and the FBI, after Christopher Steele was fired by the bureau on the eve of the 2016 presidential election over Christopher Steele contacts with the media. The answer from DOJ was, Were working on this -- kicking the can down the road was a constant theme, one source explained. On Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, speaking during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., confirmed that Michael Horowitz office is continuing to probe potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act( FISA) abuses. Former FBI director James Comey speaks during the Canada 2020 Conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. ( Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP) We have a FISA-related review that people might have heard about that the deputy attorney general asked us to take a look at, but Im not going to dwell on that.

  2. Lawrence Yun:

    Homes listed for sale are still garnering great interest, but the multiple, frenzied offers – sometimes double-digit bids on one property – have dissipated in most regions, even in a somewhat calmer market, a number of potential buyers are still choosing to waive appraisals and inspections.

  3. Larry Summers:

    We were providing demand well in excess over the next couple of years of any plausible estimate of the economy’s potential to produce, and that meant substantial price increases.

  4. Michael Fuchs:

    If Alexis Tsipras of the Greek left party Syriza thinks he can cut back the reform efforts and austerity measures, then the troika will have to cut back the credits for Greece, the times where we had to rescue Greece are over. There is no potential for political blackmail anymore. Greece is no longer of systemic importance for the euro.

  5. Leslie Wexner:

    We believe that, as a private company, Victoria's Secret will be better able to focus on longer-term results. We are pleased that, by retaining a significant ownership stake, our shareholders will have the ability to meaningfully participate in the upside potential of these iconic brands.

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Translations for potential

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    a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease
    • A. tacky
    • B. contagious
    • C. epidemic
    • D. soft-witted

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