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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Monopoly power and barriers to market entry are pervasive, enabling the rich and corporations to accumulate far more wealth and profits—and pay workers less—than a truly competitive market would permit. Greg Ip, WSJ, "How Bidenomics Seeks to Remake the Economic Consensus," 7 Apr. 2021 Until then, Ingenuity will gather data regarding the performance of its thermal-control and power systems in order to ensure the vehicle is able to survive each night during the length of the flight experiment period. Julia Musto, Fox News, "NASA Mars helicopter survives cold Martian night in first step of historic endeavor," 7 Apr. 2021 Claire Nowicki Clarkston, senior outside hitter. Nowicki (24 aces, 385 kills, 287 digs and 50 blocks) is arguably one of the best six-rotation players in the area, attacking with both power and finesse. Tom Lang, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit High School Sports Awards 2021: Meet our honorees for volleyball," 7 Apr. 2021 Peter Shankman is an entrepreneur and bestselling author of several books, including Faster Than Normal, which is about harnessing the energy and power of the ADHD brain. Chelsea Leah, Wired, "How Technology Can Help You Cope With ADHD," 7 Apr. 2021 People are vulnerable [and] bullies operate on power and control. Cat Woods, Marie Claire, "When Working From Home Becomes a Never-Ending Nightmare," 6 Apr. 2021 As the country grapples with the Derek Chauvin trial, an all-new episode delves into America's New Reconstruction -- can the Black community turn pain into promise, prosperity and power? Rick Klein, ABC News, "Joe Biden's Joe Manchin problem slows agenda again: The Note," 6 Apr. 2021 The city agreed to pick up the tab for expenses including heat, lighting and power, and to provide some additional operating support, and the institutions made commitments to make their offerings accessible to New Yorkers. New York Times, "How Weeksville, a Center of Black History, Fought to Survive," 6 Apr. 2021 That production gas is used to power and heat homes across much of Southcentral Alaska. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Hilcorp shuts down two offshore platforms in Cook Inlet after natural gas leaks from fuel line," 6 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Restaurants pay Resy and its competitors OpenTable, Tock, and Seven Rooms to power their reservations, and in some cases, handle capacity monitoring, generate contact tracing reports, and act as their entire operating system. Jennifer Leigh Parker, Forbes, "NYC’s Best Restaurants Are Back, Without Pretension," 5 Apr. 2021 Hunter Terrel drained four 3-pointers to power the Panthers with 20 points, and Ryan Albert and Dillon Cramer combined for 17 points. Anchorage Daily News, "Class 2A boys basketball makes it rain with 40 3-pointers in two semifinal games," 3 Apr. 2021 East Boston 32, O’Bryant 6 — Senior Aamir Johnson ran for 200-plus yards in the first half, scoring on runs of 37 and 65 yards, to power the unbeaten Jets (3-0) to the Boston City League North matchup. BostonGlobe.com, "Kevin Hughes, Apponequet hit the ground running in season-opening victory," 26 Mar. 2021 Sources claimed Apple was interested in designing its own vehicle rather than using an existing EV platform, and creating the software to power the self-driving experience. Chris Smith, BGR, "Xiaomi might be working on an electric car to launch before Apple," 26 Mar. 2021 Just as in the late 1940s and 1950s when the rest of the world was rebuilding from World War II, this is the chance for the U.S. to power ahead. Noah Smith, Star Tribune, "America's economy will be back on top," 23 Mar. 2021 The junior outside hitter blasted 11 kills Monday to power the Panthers to a 25-19, 25-12 nonconference win at Waubonsie Valley. Rick Armstrong, chicagotribune.com, "Girls volleyball notes: Hard-hitting Destiny Grey teams with veteran setter Haley Zeck to show the way for ‘no drama’ Oswego," 23 Mar. 2021 Nvidia’s second-generation Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS 2.0) technology could be breaking free of its PC confines to power the visuals in a forthcoming Nintendo Switch upgrade, Bloomberg reports. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Nvidia's magical DLSS feature could be coming to consoles," 23 Mar. 2021 Fans of both those programs brought enough energy to power the place, and the rest of Indianapolis. Tom Noie, The Indianapolis Star, "12th-seeded Oregon State Beavers knock off Oklahoma State, win trip to Sweet 16," 22 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Colorado State, Boise State and San Diego State are projected to make the NCAA tournament, which would be the most teams from a non-power conference, per ESPN. Marcus Fuller, Star Tribune, "Mid-majors hold their ground in college basketball," 28 Jan. 2021 To co-power community leaders and organizational partners to fundamentally transform the culture in which decision making occurs. USA Today, "In California's Coachella Valley, making sure rural residents of color are included in decision making," 31 Aug. 2020 Non-power five schools receive hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million from guarantee games to fund their athletic departments. From Staff And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Pac-12 decision eliminates Tech-Arizona game," 11 July 2020 The sarcastic, whomping Fountains Of Wayne and lithe and buzzy Tinted Windows were fundamentally power pop, while Ivy combined cool Eurolounge with sad hints of Burt Bacharach. Marc Hirsh, EW.com, "Remembering Adam Schlesinger, prolific pop-rock ace," 2 Apr. 2020

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.

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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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Learn More about power

Time Traveler for power

Time Traveler

The first known use of power was in the 13th century

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Statistics for power

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Power.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/power. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for power



English Language Learners Definition of power

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the ability or right to control people or things
: political control of a country or area
: a person or organization that has a lot of control and influence over other people or organizations



English Language Learners Definition of power (Entry 2 of 3)

: to supply (something) with power
: to move with great speed or force



English Language Learners Definition of power (Entry 3 of 3)

: of or relating to electrical power
: operated by using electricity rather than a person's strength
: having great strength or 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

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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

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