Definition of power in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpou(ə)r/


1The ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality: the power of speech [with infinitive]: the power to raise the dead (powers) his powers of concentration
More example sentences
  • The powers of technology harnessed with the power of the human mind fused into one supreme being capable of the impossible.
  • He preached a simple, effective message of a common humanity and the power of love.
  • I can use any number of tools, from the powers of composition and imagination to the power of a computer, to make an image be what I want it to be.
2The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events: the idea that men should have power over women she had me under her power
More example sentences
  • We have the power to influence events if only we are prepared to use it.
  • You have power, prestige and influence and can dictate your terms in professional matters.
  • It is a role of no power, no influence, with no glamour or credit.
2.1Political or social authority or control, especially that exercised by a government: the party had been in power for eight years [as modifier]: a power struggle
More example sentences
  • But that was a revolution which brought the capitalist class to political power.
  • The parliament that emerged from this vote has been as yet unable to form a government and exercises no power.
  • They don't have the economic and social power of government and media figures, that's for sure.
2.2A right or authority that is given or delegated to a person or body: police do not have the power to stop and search emergency powers
More example sentences
  • The Tribunal has no power to delegate to any other body the performance of the duties laid on it by the Act.
  • This ground of challenge may be used where the claimant alleges that there has been an unlawful delegation of power.
  • There has also been a history of judicial reticence when a power is delegated to an elected public body.
2.3The military strength of a state: the sea power of Venice
More example sentences
  • The world heroine had rendered her causes morally imperative and essential to national military power.
  • Yes, in conventional terms, the greater military power would win out, but not in guerilla warfare.
  • His greatest strength was recognising the limitations of military power.
2.4A state or country, especially one viewed in terms of its international influence and military strength: a great colonial power
More example sentences
  • The Industrial Revolution ensured military supremacy of the Western powers, whose colonial influence affected most of the Muslim world.
  • After a long trend of consolidation by colonial powers, new countries are declaring their independence.
  • In addition a murky role is being played by certain neighbouring countries and international powers.
state, country, nation
2.5A person or organization that is strong or influential within a particular context: he was a power in the university
More example sentences
  • There will no longer be two political powers within the central government as some suggested.
  • A number of business organisations appealed to political powers today to work together and form a cabinet as soon as possible.
  • Uber-designers often pave the way for their work by forging bonds with the business and political powers in an organization.
2.6A supernatural being, deity, or force: the powers of darkness
More example sentences
  • The stories of heroism from the epics involved the use of supernatural or divine powers by the avtats or incarnations of gods and goddesses.
  • Those who believe in a supernatural power know that there is a further existence after the shell they are in dies.
  • The force of these powers works in ways that are so woven into the fabric of life, they are hard to see.
2.7 (powers) (In traditional Christian angelology) the sixth highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy.
Example sentences
  • The heavenly powers greet you with sacred canticles and with joyous praise.
2.8 [as modifier] informal Denoting something associated with people who hold authority and influence, especially in the context of business or politics: a red power tie
2.9 [with modifier] Used in the names of movements aiming to enhance the status of a specified group: gay power
More example sentences
  • She's also justly proud of the girl power movement the band started.
  • We probably used the term gay power more than gay pride in that particular march.
3Physical strength and force exerted by something or someone: the power of the storm
More example sentences
  • We think power is physical muscle power and we try harder to overpower and dominate others.
  • Their stand-out attribute for me is the physical strength and power of the players.
  • Yet by their physical power, they can impose their will without regard to the law.
3.1Capacity or performance of an engine or other device: he applied full power
More example sentences
  • Once again we tried to lift off with engines roaring at full power, but no cigar.
  • This should be less of a problem at Monaco, where no cars use their full engine power.
  • With a brisk performance, this engine had plenty of power at the high end.
driving force, horsepower, h.p., acceleration
informal oomph
3.2The capacity of something to affect the emotions or intellect strongly: the lyrical power of his prose
3.3 [as modifier] Denoting a sports player, team, or style of play that makes use of power rather than finesse: a power pitcher
More example sentences
  • He came out of nowhere last year to play the power game well and show amazing athleticism for his size.
  • She is working on her own power game - spending more time in the gym, and improving the physical side of her game.
  • His running is the reason why the Wildcats are relying more on power football and the option.
3.4The magnifying capacity of a lens.
Example sentences
  • The main ocular determinants of refraction are the focusing power of the cornea and crystalline lens and the length of the eye.
  • Long-sightedness occurs when the eyeball is too short in relation to the focusing power of the cornea and lens.
  • The refractive or focusing power of the cornea can be measured with a keratometer.
4Energy that is produced by mechanical, electrical, or other means and used to operate a device: generating power from waste [as modifier]: power cables
More example sentences
  • Wind power uses the kinetic energy from the wind to turn an electricity-generating turbine.
  • The server has two separate power supplies and two power cables in case one fails or falls out.
  • They are also actively involved in smuggling and looting high-voltage power cables.
4.1Electrical energy supplied to an area, building, etc. the power went off
More example sentences
  • He said the use of solar energy could help people in rural areas to have power for their schools and clinics.
  • The building is self-sufficient in power and water use and all wastewater is treated on site.
  • Nobody in the area had power at this point, and there was quite a bit of property damage.
4.2 [as modifier] Driven by electrical energy: a power drill
More example sentences
  • I found an attachment for our power screwdriver/drill thing that exactly fits a standard drum lug.
  • Then there's the sound of buzzing: the rasp of a buzz-saw or scream of a power drill, perhaps.
  • It made him want to take a power drill to the other side of his head to release the pressure.
4.3 Physics The time-rate of doing work, measured in watts or less frequently horsepower.
Example sentences
  • Spectral analysis provides a measure of power in the different frequency bands in the EEG.
  • There are two 1.5 watt speakers built in and the unit draws a paltry 20 watts of power.
  • It likes to trumpet its all out speed while ignoring the 130 watts of power and size of the beast.
5 Mathematics The number of times a certain number is to be multiplied by itself: 2 to the power of 4 equals 16
More example sentences
  • In 1915 Macaulay discovered the primary decomposition of an ideal in a polynomial ring, which is the analogue of the decomposition of a number into a product of prime powers.
  • We can use arithmetics with different bases, fractions, decimals, logarithms, powers, or simply words.
  • Hensel was interested in the exact power of a prime which divides the discriminant of an algebraic number field.


1 [with object] Supply (a device) with mechanical or electrical energy: the car is powered by a fuel-injected 3.0-liter engine [as adjectivein combination]: (-powered) a nuclear-powered submarine
More example sentences
  • A particular growth area for the company continues to be the production of seal rings for turbo chargers in diesel powered engines.
  • Chips are cut out of wafers, and are used to power electronics devices such as cell phones.
  • ‘In fact the school pays for the electricity that powers the machines, with no return,’ she adds.
1.1 (power something up/down) Switch a device on or off: the officer powered up the fighter’s radar
More example sentences
  • It did rather lose its marbles towards the end and had turned malicious after one particularly thorough seeing to by a bloke who didn't know how to switch it on and powered it up at least nine times in a way that the manual expressly forbade.
  • Set the replicator to ‘ham sandwich’ and power the device up, making sure to jokingly say ‘make it so!’
  • He looked at his handheld device and saw it was powered up fully.
2 [no object] Move or travel with great speed or force: they powered past the dock toward the mouth of the creek
More example sentences
  • Crawford was slow out of his blocks but powered round the bend to lead Williams by a fraction as they entered the final 100m.
  • Thrashing my way along, this guy powered past me, turbulence all round, power-boat wake.
  • The Texan was the world's one-lap maestro and looks as relaxed in the studio as he was powering round the track.
2.1 [with object] Direct (something, especially a ball) with great force: Nicholas powered a header into the net
More example sentences
  • He made a thundering run up the pitch before powering the ball over the bar from 40 metres.
  • He has regained muscle definition in his chest and shoulders and has been powering the ball out to left-center, a good sign for a lefthander hitter.
  • A fairly well known shooting coach taught powering the ball with the first two fingers.



do someone/something a power of good

informal Be very beneficial to someone or something.
Example sentences
  • We moved here earlier than we'd planned and it's doing us a power of good.
  • Futilely smashing things up does you a power of good.
  • It still does you a power of good if you are applying for a job as a teacher and you know a politician on the appointments board.

in the power of

Under the control of: a church ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit
More example sentences
  • In the end, when they have gained their purpose, they lose all interest and leave their man in the power of fate with one more bill to pay.
  • Its forked root, seemingly resembling the human form, was thought to be in the power of dark earth spirits.
  • I am limp in the power of the current that tugs beneath the waves.
have control over, have influence over, have under one's thumb, have at one's mercy, have in one's clutches, have in the palm of one's hand, have someone wrapped around one's little finger, have in one's hip pocket
informal have over a barrel

power behind the throne

A person or organization that exerts authority or influence without having formal status.
Example sentences
  • That of course gets the political tongues wagging in terms of this issue of how people rate his power and influence, and whether he is the power behind the throne.
  • Successive coaches were perceived as the being the powers behind the throne, but the club grew stronger after each departed.
  • But there was always a suspicion that he remained the power behind the throne - and, on Friday, he admitted he was still the security adviser.

the powers that be

The authorities.
With biblical allusion to Rom. 13:1
Example sentences
  • I thought we were being directed away from the original subject matter by the powers that be.
  • It would never have occurred to the powers that be to run and supervise the National Lottery from anywhere but London.
  • People try and be free, and the powers that be basically overtake the movement.
the authorities, the people in charge, the government


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French poeir, from an alteration of Latin posse 'be able'.

  • Like posse, power can be traced back to Latin posse ‘to be able’. ‘We know that power does corrupt, and that we cannot trust kings to have loving hearts’, wrote Anthony Trollope in The Prime Minister (1876). But power corrupts got into the language through the slightly later quotation from Lord Acton: ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority’ (letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887). Whoever the authorities or people in control are in a particular situation can be referred to as the powers that be, a phrase that comes from the Bible: ‘For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God’ (Epistle to the Romans).

Words that rhyme with power

bower, cower, devour, dower, embower, empower, endower, flour, flower, gaur, Glendower, glower, hour, lour, lower, our, plougher (US plower), scour, shower, sour, Stour, sweet-and-sour, tower

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pow·er

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