ca·​pac·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈpa-sə-tē How to pronounce capacity (audio) , -ˈpa-stē \
plural capacities

Definition of capacity

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : legal competency (see competence sense 1) or fitness capacity to stand trial
2a : the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating a large seating capacity
b : the maximum amount or number that can be contained or accommodated a jug with a one-gallon capacity the auditorium was filled to capacity — see Metric System Table, Weights and Measures Table
3a : an individual's mental or physical ability : aptitude, skill He has the capacity to handle this job. Her breathing capacity has deteriorated.
b : the faculty or potential for treating, experiencing, or appreciating capacity for love
4 : duty, position, role will be happy to serve in any capacity
5 : the facility or power to produce, perform, or deploy : capability a plan to double the factory's capacity also : maximum output industries running at three-quarter capacity
b : the quantity of electricity that a battery can deliver under specified conditions



Definition of capacity (Entry 2 of 2)

: equaling maximum capacity a capacity crowd

Synonyms for capacity

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of capacity in a Sentence

Noun The nightclub has a 1,000-person capacity. a bottle with a capacity of two liters Does he have the capacity to handle this job? The disease causes a deterioration of breathing capacity. He was acting in his capacity as judge. serving in a supervisory capacity See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One of the vehicles contained several weapons with high-capacity magazines, according to the indictment. Chelsea Prince, ajc, 11 May 2022 Cases in recent years have challenged the state’s ban on assault weapons, and its ban on high-capacity magazines. Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2022 All three suspects allegedly used 9mm handguns, and Smiley allegedly used an automatic 9mm handgun with a high-capacity magazine. Sophie Reardon, CBS News, 4 May 2022 Mari partnered with water filter company Hydroviv to donate and distribute her very own high-capacity lead-removal filters to families and child-centric organizations in Flint. Paul Grein, Billboard, 4 May 2022 The Biden administration on Monday announced more than $3 billion in grants will be made available to spur U.S. expansion of high-capacity battery manufacturing and raw material sourcing and recycling for those batteries. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, 2 May 2022 Live experiences and digital archiving, for example, are rapidly developing the need for high-capacity data transfer and storage. Ashley Lan, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Apr. 2022 The courtroom fills to near-capacity most days, and Depp’s fans tend to murmur and even snicker quietly to themselves when the actor talks back to Rottenborn. Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2022 Check out this large-capacity fanny pack from Freetoo, which features six roomy pockets. Rebecca Carhart, Travel + Leisure, 21 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of capacity


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1897, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for capacity

Noun and Adjective

Middle English capacite, from Middle French capacité, from Latin capacitat-, capacitas, from capac-, capax

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Time Traveler for capacity

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near capacity

capacitor motor


capacity coupling

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Statistics for capacity

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Capacity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for capacity


ca·​pac·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈpa-sə-tē How to pronounce capacity (audio) \
plural capacities

Kids Definition of capacity

1 : ability to contain or deal with something The room has a large seating capacity. Factories are working to capacity.
2 : mental or physical power You have the capacity to do better.
3 : volume sense 3 The tank has a ten-gallon capacity.
4 : role sense 1, status In your capacity as team captain, you can set a good example.


ca·​pac·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈpas-ət-ē, -ˈpas-tē How to pronounce capacity (audio) \
plural capacities

Medical Definition of capacity

1a : the ability to hold, receive, store, or accommodate
b : a measure of content : the measured ability to contain : volume a beaker with a capacity of one liter — see vital capacity
c(1) : capacitance
(2) : the quantity of electricity that a battery can deliver under specified conditions
2 : legal qualification, competency, power, or fitness
3a : power to grasp and analyze ideas and cope with problems
b : blended power, strength, and ability encourage physical activity to the limit of the child's capacity— Morris Fishbein


plural capacities

Legal Definition of capacity

1 : a qualification, power, or ability (as to give consent or make a testament) created by operation of law
2 : an individual's ability or aptitude especially : mental ability as it relates to responsibility for the commission of a crime (as murder) — see also diminished capacity — compare competency, incapacity, insanity

More from Merriam-Webster on capacity

Nglish: Translation of capacity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of capacity for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about capacity


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