puis·​sant | \ ˈpwi-sᵊnt How to pronounce puissant (audio) , ˈpyü-ə-sənt, pyü-ˈi-sᵊnt \

Definition of puissant

: having puissance : powerful

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Puissant has some powerful ties to some more commonplace English words. Although puissant has a considerably fancier feel than power and potent, all three words share the same Latin ancestor: posse, a verb meaning "to be able." (English posse, meaning "a group of people sharing some common interest," is also related to the Latin verb but came into the language via the Medieval Latin phrase posse comitatus, literally "power of the county.") Potent came from potent-, potens, a present participle of posse. Power came to us by way of Anglo-French poer, which itself comes from a Vulgar Latin alteration of posse. From poer also came the Anglo-French adjective pussant, meaning "able" or "powerful," and English speakers borrowed that to form puissant in the 15th century.

Examples of puissant in a Sentence

one of the nation's most respected and puissant advocates for the rights of minorities

First Known Use of puissant

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of puissant was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Puissant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puissant. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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