ca·pac·i·ty | \kə-ˈpa-sə-tē, -ˈpas-tē\
plural capacities

Definition of capacity 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : legal competency (see competence sense 3) or fitness capacity to stand trial

2a : the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating a large seating capacity

b : the maximum amount or number that can be contained or accommodated a jug with a one-gallon capacity the auditorium was filled to capacity — see Metric System Table, Weights and Measures Table

3a : an individual's mental or physical ability : aptitude, skill He has the capacity to handle this job. Her breathing capacity has deteriorated.

b : the faculty or potential for treating, experiencing, or appreciating capacity for love

4 : duty, position, role will be happy to serve in any capacity

5 : the facility or power to produce, perform, or deploy : capability a plan to double the factory's capacity also : maximum output industries running at three-quarter capacity

6a : capacitance

b : the quantity of electricity that a battery can deliver under specified conditions



Definition of capacity (Entry 2 of 2)

: equaling maximum capacity a capacity crowd

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Examples of capacity in a Sentence


The nightclub has a 1,000-person capacity. a bottle with a capacity of two liters Does he have the capacity to handle this job? The disease causes a deterioration of breathing capacity. He was acting in his capacity as judge. serving in a supervisory capacity
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In all, Swift’s tour gross for the pair of dates at the high-capacity stadiums (Louisville’s Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and Columbus’ Ohio Stadium, respectively) on June 30 and July 7 earns $11.5 million. Kevin Rutherford, Billboard, "Taylor Swift Rules Hot Tours Tally With Start of 'Reputation' Tour Third Leg," 12 July 2018 On gun rights, Kavanaugh has taken a broad reading of the Second Amendment, writing in a 2011 dissent that the District of Columbia should not be allowed to ban semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines. Brian Bennett, Time, "How Brett Kavanaugh Could Change the Supreme Court—and America," 12 July 2018 High-speed, high-capacity wireless connectivity will unleash new innovations to improve our quality of life. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Smarter devices, faster smartphones will follow from FCC 5G spectrum auctions," 11 July 2018 Brazier fired at least 30 rounds from a SKS rifle with a high-capacity magazine, police said. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Alabama woman fatally shot by ex-husband had twice asked judge to take his guns away," 4 July 2018 Pulse: Voters in California responded to the deadly nightclub shooting by passing a ballot initiative to ban large-capacity magazines and require background checks for people purchasing ammunition. Rachel Swan,, "California the exception as nation’s gun laws loosen after ’93 SF rampage," 1 July 2018 On Tuesday, Onofri announced that Davone White, 26, of Trenton, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and a large capacity magazine that could hold 30 rounds. Robert Moran,, "Facebook warning likely prevented more bloodshed at Trenton festival shooting," 21 June 2018 Multiple weapons were confiscated, including a handgun with an extended capacity magazine containing more ammunition than is allowed under New Jersey law, Onofri said., "Gunfire Erupts At New Jersey Arts Festival; 22 Wounded," 17 June 2018 The Portland-area clergy backing the effort to ban sales of many semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines are worried Oregon’s ballot title appeals process will leave them with little time to qualify for the November ballot. Hillary Borrud,, "Oregon Supreme Court decision could help gun control initiative," 8 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'capacity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of capacity


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1897, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for capacity


Middle English capacite, from Middle French capacité, from Latin capacitat-, capacitas, from capac-, capax


see capacity entry 1

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Phrases Related to capacity

fill to capacity

Statistics for capacity

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for capacity

The first known use of capacity was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for capacity



English Language Learners Definition of capacity

: the ability to hold or contain people or things

: the largest amount or number that can be held or contained

: the ability to do something : a mental, emotional, or physical ability


ca·pac·i·ty | \kə-ˈpa-sə-tē \
plural capacities

Kids Definition of capacity

1 : ability to contain or deal with something The room has a large seating capacity. Factories are working to capacity.

2 : mental or physical power You have the capacity to do better.

3 : volume sense 3 The tank has a ten-gallon capacity.

4 : role sense 1, status In your capacity as team captain, you can set a good example.


ca·pac·i·ty | \kə-ˈpas-ət-ē, -ˈpas-tē \
plural capacities

Medical Definition of capacity 

1a : the ability to hold, receive, store, or accommodate

b : a measure of content : the measured ability to contain : volume a beaker with a capacity of one liter — see vital capacity

c(1) : capacitance

(2) : the quantity of electricity that a battery can deliver under specified conditions

2 : legal qualification, competency, power, or fitness

3a : power to grasp and analyze ideas and cope with problems

b : blended power, strength, and ability encourage physical activity to the limit of the child's capacity— Morris Fishbein

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plural capacities

Legal Definition of capacity 

1 : a qualification, power, or ability (as to give consent or make a testament) created by operation of law

2 : an individual's ability or aptitude especially : mental ability as it relates to responsibility for the commission of a crime (as murder) — see also diminished capacity — compare competency, incapacity, insanity

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Comments on capacity

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not any or not one

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