noun, often attributive
pow·​er | \ ˈpau̇(-ə)r How to pronounce power (audio) \

Definition of power

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1) : ability to act or produce an effect
(2) : ability to get extra-base hits
(3) : capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect
b : legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2a : possession of control, authority, or influence over others
b : one having such power specifically : a sovereign state
c : a controlling group : establishment often used in the phrase the powers that be
d archaic : a force of armed men
e chiefly dialectal : a large number or quantity
3a : physical might
b : mental or moral efficacy
c : political control or influence
4 powers plural : an order of angels — see celestial hierarchy
5a : the number of times as indicated by an exponent that a number occurs as a factor in a product 5 to the third power is 125 also : the product itself 8 is a power of 2
6a : a source or means of supplying energy especially : electricity
c : the time rate at which work is done or energy emitted or transferred
9 : the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis in a statistical test when a particular alternative hypothesis happens to be true


powered; powering; powers

Definition of power (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to supply with power and especially motive power
2 : to give impetus to

intransitive verb

1 : to move about by means of motive power
2 : to move with great speed or force



Definition of power (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : operated mechanically or electrically rather than manually a car with power locks power tools
2 : of, relating to, or utilizing strength plays a power game also : powerful sense 1 a power critic
3 : of, relating to, or being a meal at which influential people discuss business or politics a power lunch

Choose the Right Synonym for power


power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence. the power to mold public opinion authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits. granted the authority to manage her estate jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits. the bureau having jurisdiction over parks control stresses the power to direct and restrain. you are responsible for the students under your control command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience. the army officer in command sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence. the empire extended its sway over the region dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority. given dominion over all the animals

power, force, energy, strength, might mean the ability to exert effort. power may imply latent or exerted physical, mental, or spiritual ability to act or be acted upon. the awesome power of flowing water force implies the actual effective exercise of power. used enough force to push the door open energy applies to power expended or capable of being transformed into work. a worker with boundless energy strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack. use weight training to build your strength might implies great or overwhelming power or strength. the belief that might makes right

Examples of power in a Sentence

Noun She is from a very wealthy family with a lot of social power. The company abused its power, forcing workers to work overtime without pay. The company was almost destroyed in a power struggle between its two founders. After the emperor died, power passed to his eldest son. the peaceful transfer of power to the newly elected president The president was removed from power in the recent uprising. The new government has taken power. The rebels rose to power several years ago. A small company with only a few products has grown to become a power in the industry. Our state is now the region's leading economic power. Verb The running back powered through the defensive line. He powered the ball past the goalie. She powered her way to the finish line. Adjective The car comes equipped with power windows. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Recently, worries about climate change have led some governments to embrace nuclear as a low-carbon source of power. Douglas Macmillan, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 Blaming the party out of power for the current state of affairs is seldom a winning strategy, political analysts said. Amy Nakamura, USA TODAY, 12 May 2022 This is a holdover from the island's colonial-era past, prior to the purchase by the U.S. and its transition of power in 1917. Travel + Leisure, 12 May 2022 Those who refuse to participate in the parallel economy of favors and bribes get passed over for promotion, cut off from benefits, and frozen out of power. BostonGlobe.com, 11 May 2022 Production peaked in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, with 104 operating reactors producing 102,000 megawatts of power. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 11 May 2022 The novel’s surprise ending is both shocking and inevitable, given the abuses of power that Green Meadow has yet to deal with. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 11 May 2022 No one is enjoying themselves at this moment, having to call everybody out for their abusive behavior or abuse of power. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, 10 May 2022 One bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of power that the average American household uses in a month, according to Digiconomist, a site that models the environmental sustainability of cryptocurrencies. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The auto group is expected to build plug-in vehicles for its Hyundai and Kia brands, as well as batteries to power them, two people have told the AJC. Greg Bluestein, ajc, 12 May 2022 Looking for some motivation to help power you through the start of another work week? Jason Lipshutz, Billboard, 9 May 2022 Solar panels are then mounted on the structures to power them with renewable energy. Carolina Milanesi, Forbes, 3 May 2022 The national Democratic Party has saddled her with an agenda of phasing out internal combustion engines and the fossil fuels that power them that sits poorly in the region that put the first Jeeps into mass production. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2022 As much as 75% of the carbon footprint of all buildings in their lifetime comes from the materials they are made from rather than the energy used to power them for several decades. Meron Demisse, Quartz, 21 Apr. 2022 Slightly over half that comes from the electricity used to power it, and 40 percent comes from its materials and production. Tim De Chant, Ars Technica, 18 Mar. 2022 One of the biggest makers of both those smart TV platforms, and the devices that power them, is Roku. Christian De Looper, BGR, 16 Feb. 2022 The vehicles fly to 50,000 feet, where Unity is released and its engine ignites to power it to the edge of space. NBC News, 15 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Great to see this @CA_DWR @SolarAquaGrid @TurlockID solar-over-canal project moving from idea to proof-of-concept construction - a baby step potentially helping CA and the planet with both water and clean-power gains. Roger Bales, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Feb. 2022 The little things stood out during Joe Biden’s sober nine-minute Tuesday afternoon speech addressing the most serious super-power crisis of this century. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 22 Feb. 2022 The Lower lake is reserved for canoeing, non-power boating and swimming from mid-May to mid-September. Megan Marples, CNN, 3 Feb. 2022 Why does America, a super-power, celebrate such an important holiday with a turkey? Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 24 Nov. 2021 The Aztecs are the only non-power conference school among the final five. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Sep. 2021 Currently, only a handful of states allow securitization, while some are actively using it to transition from coal to clean-power plants. Jakob Puckett, National Review, 28 May 2021 In the past decade, these teams from non-power conferences have made the Final Four: Loyola Chicago (Missouri Valley, 2018); Gonzaga (2017); Wichita State (Missouri Valley, 2013); VCU (Colonial, 2011); Butler (Horizon, 2010-11). Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Apr. 2021 For the third time in as many games Richard Pitino's Gophers found themselves being outplayed during one half at home against a non-power conference opponent this season. Marcus Fuller, Star Tribune, 4 Dec. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of power


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1540, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for power


Middle English, from Anglo-French poer, pouer, from poer to be able, from Vulgar Latin *potēre, alteration of Latin posse — more at potent

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Power.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/power. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for power


pow·​er | \ ˈpau̇-ər How to pronounce power (audio) \

Kids Definition of power

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : possession of control, authority, or influence over others
2 : a nation that has influence among other nations a foreign power
3 : the ability to act or produce an effect It's in your power to change things.
4 : the right to do something the president's powers
5 : physical might : strength The wind grew in power.
6 : the number of times as shown by an exponent that a number is used as a factor to obtain a product 103 is the third power of 10 and means 10 × 10 × 10.
7 : force or energy used to do work electric power
8 : the rate of speed at which work is done
9 : the number of times an optical instrument (as a microscope) magnifies the object viewed


powered; powering

Kids Definition of power (Entry 2 of 2)

: to supply with a form of energy The old train was powered by coal.


pow·​er | \ ˈpau̇(-ə)r How to pronounce power (audio) \

Medical Definition of power

1 : an inherent property or effect a drug that enhances the heart's pumping power— Kathleen Fackelmann



Legal Definition of power

1 : capability of acting or of producing an effect parties of unequal bargaining power
2a : authority or capacity to act that is delegated by law or constitution often used in pl.
commerce power
often capitalized C&P : the power delegated to Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to regulate commerce especially among the states — see also commerce clause
concurrent power
: a power that is held simultaneously by more than one entity specifically : a power delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution that is also held by the states
enumerated powers \ i-​ˈnü-​mə-​ˌrā-​təd-​, -​ˈnyü-​ \
: the powers specifically named and delegated to the federal government or prohibited to be exercised by the states under the U.S. Constitution — compare reserved powers in this entry
executive power
: the power delegated to the executive of a government specifically : any or all of the powers delegated to the president under Article II of the U.S. Constitution
implied power
: a power that is reasonably necessary and appropriate to carry out the purposes of a power expressly granted especially : a power that is not specifically delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution but that is implied by the necessary and proper clause to be delegated for the purpose of carrying out the enumerated powers — see also McCulloch v. Maryland
judicial power
: the power granted to the judicial branch of a government specifically : the power delegated to the judiciary under Article III of the U.S. Constitution
legislative power
: the power delegated to a legislative branch of a government specifically : any or all of the powers delegated to Congress under Article I of the U.S. Constitution
police power
: the power of a government to exercise reasonable control over persons and property within its jurisdiction in the interest of the general security, health, safety, morals, and welfare except where legally prohibited (as by constitutional provision)
reserved powers
: the political powers reserved by a constitution to the exclusive jurisdiction of a specified political authority specifically : powers that are not expressly delegated to the federal government nor expressly prohibited to the states and are therefore left to the states under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — compare enumerated powers in this entry
spending power
: the power granted to a government body to make expenditures specifically : the power delegated to Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the U.S.
taxing power
: the power granted to a government body to lay and collect taxes specifically : such power delegated to Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution
war powers
: the powers delegated to the executive and legislative branches of the federal government relating to the waging of war: as
a : the power delegated to Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to declare war
b : the power delegated to the president under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to serve as commander in chief of the armed forces
b : an ability, authority, or right usually conferred by one person upon another to do something that effects a change in a legal relationship specifically : such authority or right to affect another's interest in property (as by conveyance) — see also power of appointment, power of attorney
collateral power
: naked power in this entry
general power
: a power that may be exercised in favor of anyone including the donee
implied power
: the power of one acting under an implied agency
naked power
: a power (as a power of sale) granted to one who has no interest in the property to which the power relates (as an executor who is not a legatee or devisee)

called also collateral power

— compare power coupled with an interest in this entry
power appendant \ -​ə-​ˈpen-​dənt \
: a power coupled with an interest (as a grant of a lease) that the donee can exercise only out of an estate (as a life estate) that he or she holds

called also power appurtenant

power coupled with an interest
: a power accompanying an interest of the donee in the property to which the power relates
power in gross
: a naked power exercisable by the donee only in the creation of estates that will not attach to the estate the donee holds or be satisfied out of the donee's own interest
power of acceptance
: the power of an offeree to bind an offeror to a contract by accepting the offer
power of modification \ -​ˌmä-​də-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən \
: a power reserved in an instrument (as one creating a trust) to make changes by a specified method
power of revocation
: a power usually reserved by a person in an instrument (as one creating a trust) to revoke the legal relationship that the person has created or made a possibility
power of sale
: a power granted (as in a will, trust, or mortgage) to sell the property to which the power relates often under specified circumstances (as upon the default of a mortgage)
power of termination
: a power of a grantor or the grantor's successors in interest to enter upon an estate that was granted upon a condition after the breach of the condition in order to terminate the granted estate and revest it in the grantor or successors in interest

called also right of entry, right of reentry

special power
: a power in which the person or class of persons to whom the disposition of property under the power is to be made is expressly designated and excludes the donee or where the power is to transfer, charge, or encumber any estate less than a fee simple
stock power
: an irrevocable power of attorney used in making a transfer of a certificate of stock
3a : possession of control, authority, or influence over others
b : one having such power specifically : a sovereign state
c : political control or influence

More from Merriam-Webster on power

Nglish: Translation of power for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of power for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about power


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