potential energy


Definition of potential energy 

: the energy that a piece of matter has because of its position or nature or because of the arrangement of parts

Examples of potential energy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Due to a potential energy crisis, South Australia has experienced numerous blackouts. Rye Druzin, Houston Chronicle, "Largest solar farm in Texas getting battery system," 19 June 2018 The measure of this is called CAPE (convective available potential energy). Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, "Severe thunderstorm watch: Storms approaching D.C.’s southern suburbs," 10 May 2018 The measure of this fuel, known as convective available potential energy (CAPE), could exceed 2,000, a large number for our region. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Washington’s first round of spring thunderstorms may erupt Thursday afternoon," 9 May 2018 There's a lot of potential energy, politically speaking, in a demographic that includes 50 million Americans, according to a 2010 census by the Association of Religion Data Archives. NBC News, "Climate change schism: Evangelical Christians divided on human role in global warming," 22 Apr. 2018 What instead pulsates with life is the sandbox itself: the potential energy of this playground, with its unexplored easter eggs yet to be discovered. Sonia Saraiya, HWD, "Westworld Season 2 Review: A Dramatic Improvement," 20 Apr. 2018 The blessing of the small but influential coalition of labor unions and progressive activists is seen as an early test of the depth of liberal unhappiness with Mr. Cuomo and the potential energy around Ms. Nixon. Shane Goldmacher, New York Times, "Cuomo and Nixon Confront First Test: Wooing Working Families Party," 12 Apr. 2018 In fact, the US added three more weeks to Daylight Saving Time in 2005, in part in the hopes of capitalizing on potential energy savings. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Daylight Saving Time isn’t worth it, European Parliament members say," 11 Feb. 2018 Within that category, OPMS students designed, built and tested a roller coaster track to guide a vehicle that uses gravitational potential energy as its sole means of propulsion. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Olive Peirce students win top awards at science match," 22 Feb. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of potential energy

1853, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about potential energy

Share potential energy

Statistics for potential energy

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for potential energy

The first known use of potential energy was in 1853

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for potential energy

potential energy


English Language Learners Definition of potential energy

physics : the energy that something has because of its position or the way its parts are arranged

potential energy


Medical Definition of potential energy 

: the energy that a piece of matter has because of its position or because of the arrangement of parts

More from Merriam-Webster on potential energy

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about potential energy

Comments on potential energy

What made you want to look up potential energy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!