ca·​pac·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈpa-sə-tē How to pronounce capacity (audio) , -ˈpa-stē \
plural capacities

Definition of capacity

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : legal competency (see competence sense 1) 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
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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Synonyms for capacity

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of capacity in a Sentence

Noun 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 Jason Brauner's restaurant, Bourbon Bistro, exhausted its PPP loan, is operating at 50% of capacity and not making enough to cover its expenses. Joyce M. Rosenberg, USA TODAY, "With Paycheck Protection Program loan money gone, thousands of restaurants at risk of closing again amid COVID-19," 3 Aug. 2020 Game venues will be limited to 50 percent of capacity. David Hinojosa,, "‘Like Christmas morning’ — football workouts resume for many Texas high schools, with masks and sanitizer galore," 3 Aug. 2020 Jason Brauner’s restaurant, Bourbon Bistro, exhausted its PPP loan, is operating at 50% of capacity and not making enough to cover its expenses. Joyce M. Rosenberg, Anchorage Daily News, "With loan money gone, restaurants are at mercy of coronvirus," 2 Aug. 2020 Officials reiterated the reasons behind the recommendation during the briefing, including the lack of capacity to test children and outbreaks in the community and rising positivity rates. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County looking for solutions to child care during remote learning, executive says," 31 July 2020 Having 25% of fan capacity at the Indy 500 is a downgrade from IMS' original plan. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, "IU Health is against running Indy 500 with fans: 'Consider an alternative'," 31 July 2020 Ohio State will limit in-stadium attendance to 20 percent of stadium capacity. oregonlive, "Forecast remains murky as conferences go their own way with football scheduling: Issues & Answers," 31 July 2020 The subject of having fans attend games in Texas was opened in June, when Gov. Greg Abbott said sporting venues could be filled to 50% of capacity. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "In an unprecedented move, Cowboys will not make season tickets available for 2020 season," 30 July 2020 Attendance at such venues may not exceed 50 percent of the venue’s capacity, and masks are required to be worn. Vivian Jones, Washington Examiner, "South Carolina governor announces new restrictions, calls for local mask mandates," 30 July 2020

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

Noun and Adjective

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

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Time Traveler for capacity

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for capacity

Last Updated

6 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Capacity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for capacity


How to pronounce capacity (audio)

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 How to pronounce capacity (audio) \
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 How to pronounce capacity (audio) \
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
(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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