noun, often attributive
pow·er | \ ˈpau̇(-ə)r \

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

b : cardinal number sense 2

6a : a source or means of supplying energy especially : electricity

b : motive power

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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Synonyms & Antonyms for power

Synonyms: Noun

energy, force, might, muscle, potency, puissance, sinew, strength, vigor

Antonyms: Noun

impotence, impotency, powerlessness, weakness

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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


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.


The running back powered through the defensive line. He powered the ball past the goalie. She powered her way to the finish line.


The car comes equipped with power windows.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This commonality makes the districts look like vehicles for broad delegation of municipal powers to private parties essentially operating as shadow governments. BostonGlobe.com, "Should Massachusetts allow cities and towns to create Community Benefit Districts?," 13 July 2018 But in the end the legislative branch must enforce its own subpoenas and the justice department must comply with that otherwise our separation of powers and checks and balances is really in trouble. Fox News, "Meadows, Dershowitz react after Lisa Page defies subpoena," 12 July 2018 The 280 horses from the 2.0-liter turbocharged four take a little while to kick in, and then full throttle requires some practice to squeeze every bit of power out. Scott Sturgis, Philly.com, "2018 Stelvio rounds out the Alfa Romeo lineup," 12 July 2018 Judge Kavanaugh said that’s a violation of separation of powers. Jen Kirby, Vox, "7 legal experts on how Kavanaugh views executive power — and what it could mean for Mueller," 11 July 2018 In 2015, Kavanaugh visited Marquette to speak during the E. Harold Hallows Lecture about the separation of powers under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Jennifer Walter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh spoke to law students at Marquette Law School," 10 July 2018 Those opinions include an array of cases where Judge Kavanaugh, voicing concern about the constitutional separation of powers, has sought to limit the federal bureaucracy. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Kavanaugh’s Past—Political and Judicial—to Fuel Confirmation Debate," 10 July 2018 Judge Kavanaugh believes in judicial humility and the separation of powers. refinery29.com, "Meet Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Supreme Court Nominee," 10 July 2018 Nearly 2,000 customers are still out of power on Tuesday morning. Jessica Suriano, azcentral, "Phoenix monsoon storms: Best things to do when the power goes out," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Some have speculated that the early commitment to skimo built the machine that powered his mountain-running dominance. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "Are Kilian Jornet's Speed Records Too Good to Be True?," 12 July 2018 Apple is working on an AI processor called the Neural Engine that will power Siri and FaceID. Andy Patrizio, Ars Technica, "The AI revolution has spawned a new chips arms race," 9 July 2018 For the energy that is used, there’s a 265 Watt solar panel on the roof that powers the home’s lights and refrigerator and a propane tank for the rest. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Solar-powered houseboat takes tiny living on water," 3 July 2018 Perrie has extensively researched the Unionville feeder canal of 1828 that powered the early mill manufacturers as well as other local power canals that provided hydropower. Courant Community, "Community News For The Valley Edition," 26 June 2018 He was recruited from Qualcomm Inc., the biggest maker of chips that power mobile phones, a market Intel has struggled to crack for decades. Philly.com, "Intel CEO Krzanich resigns after relationship with employee," 21 June 2018 Solar panels that power the satellites are especially vulnerable to debris strikes, Ross said during the National Space Council meeting. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Gone to pieces: Trump administration hopes to track and limit the debris threatening the space industry," 18 June 2018 Intel claimed almost the entirety of microprocessor chip sales that power corporate and cloud-based server computers in recent years and the lion’s share of the lucrative desktop and notebook PC markets, as well. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Why AMD's Stock Price Is Soaring and Intel's Is Falling Hard," 18 June 2018 Along the back, where the new Lynx Blue Line Extension tracks swoop overhead, there will be more outdoor seating for the restaurants and the original smokestack that once powered the building. Kathleen Purvis, charlotteobserver, "Here's what's new on the restaurants planned for NoDa's massive new food hall," 15 June 2018

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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Statistics for power

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for power

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

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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 \

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 \

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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Comments on power

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


the setting in which something occurs

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