: the energy that a piece of matter has because of its position or because of the arrangement of parts
Energy stored by an object by virtue of its position. For example, an object raised above the ground acquires potential energy equal to the work done against the force of gravity; the energy is released as kinetic energy when it falls back to the ground. Similarly, a stretched spring has stored potential energy that is released when the spring is returned to its unstretched state. Other forms of potential energy include electrical potential energy, chemical energy, and nuclear energy.