po·​ten·​ti·​al·​i·​ty | \ pə-ˌten(t)-shē-ˈa-lə-tē How to pronounce potentiality (audio) \
plural potentialities

Definition of potentiality

1 : the ability to develop or come into existence

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Examples of potentiality in a Sentence

would like to see a colony on the moon as an actuality and not merely a potentiality
Recent Examples on the Web Despite watching Cunningham’s performance in the final minutes, Boynton stopped short of likening Cunningham to Mariano Rivera when asked about that potentiality postgame. Jordan Guskey, The Indianapolis Star, "Oklahoma State survives against Liberty despite Cade Cunningham’s struggles," 20 Mar. 2021 Historically Black Colleges and Universities are both incubators and accelerators of their students’ talent, intelligence and potentiality in a daily immersion in their heritage and investment in their future. Janelle Harris Dixon, Smithsonian Magazine, "These Colleges Produced Generations of Black Women Leaders," 8 Feb. 2021 The cartoon landscape is a model of the marvelous that’s an alibi for something much more malign: a world where infinite potentiality is experienced as terror. Adam Thirlwell, The New York Review of Books, "A Horse’s Remorse," 3 Aug. 2020 There was no discussion of what use, if any, to make of my new potentiality. Joseph O’neill, The New Yorker, "The Flier," 4 Nov. 2019 That first potentiality doesn’t look like a problem. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Could Ohio State football’s 2021 recruiting class be the best in Buckeye history?," 19 Mar. 2020 Such settings serve Appelfeld as a fictional petri dish where certain human potentialities can be developed to an extreme, while excusing the novelist from the sometimes dreary obligations of social realism. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, "Aharon Appelfeld’s Legends of Home," 2 Mar. 2020 There has never really been a timeline in Ms. Atkinson’s novels, but rather a timescape, a realm in which everything exists at once in potentiality and only gradually emerges as a story that is as much quandary as plot. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, "‘Transcription’ Review: Heard During Wartime," 20 Sep. 2018 Finding a solution to a puzzle with that degree of complexity, and among billions of potentialities, involves a degree of abstract thinking that, researchers say, begins to approximate human reasoning and decision-making. Washington Post, "This robotic hand learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube on its own — just like a human.," 18 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'potentiality.' 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 potentiality

1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for potentiality

Time Traveler

The first known use of potentiality was in 1625

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Statistics for potentiality

Last Updated

29 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Potentiality.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/potentiality. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for potentiality



English Language Learners Definition of potentiality

: a quality that can be developed to make someone or something better
: a chance or possibility that something will happen or exist in the future

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More from Merriam-Webster on potentiality

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for potentiality

Britannica English: Translation of potentiality for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about potentiality

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