Definition of potential in English:

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Pronunciation: /pə(ʊ)ˈtɛnʃ(ə)l/


Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future: a campaign to woo potential customers
More example sentences
  • In particular, it claims the cost of the service is likely to turn-off potential customers.
  • Links are also being developed with potential partners in New York, Dubai and Helsinki.
  • Instead the study was just a process to find out the potential capacity for new homes.
possible, likely, prospective, future, probable, budding, in the making;
latent, embryonic, developing, dormant, inherent, unrealized, undeveloped


1 [mass noun] Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness: a young broadcaster with great potential [count noun]: the potentials of the technology were never wholly controllable
More example sentences
  • Following on from this, I think this story has excellent potential if developed cleverly.
  • He was talented and hard-working and had such potential for success in life.
  • The merit acquired from this gift is used to trigger the forces of latent positive potential in oneself or others.
1.1 (often potential for/to do something) The possibility of something happening or of someone doing something in the future: pesticides with the potential to cause cancer
More example sentences
  • They were of course unaware of the latent potential for economic growth just around the corner.
  • It has experienced strong growth in the past three years and has good potential for future growth.
  • More to the point still, is this potential to anger particularly strong in the media?
2 Physics The quantity determining the energy of mass in a gravitational field or of charge in an electric field: a change in gravitational potential [count noun]: measurements of induced electrical potentials
More example sentences
  • The normal conduction of action potentials is reliant upon sodium channels.
  • Electrical action potentials, osmotic perturbations or chemical signals may trigger these waves.
  • Various measurable bits in the universe have vastly different potentials to have a causal impact.



Pronunciation: /pə(ʊ)tɛnʃɪˈalɪti/
Example sentences
  • The potentialities and possibilities of the electronic medium have been put to use to achieve this end.
  • The nature of such powers (also referred to as dispositions, tendencies, potentialities and capacities) is a hotly disputed issue in contemporary metaphysics.
  • It has little or no real interest in other skills, abilities, or potentialities, not to mention the needs, desires, imagination, or commitment to intellectual life of faculty members.


(also potentialise) verb
Example sentences
  • The ritualised practice of cruising potentialises the automobilised space of the street and carpark so it becomes an event-space where the incorporeal event of ‘nothing’ happens.
  • In that sense, being non-intelligible logically potentialises new identities to form, allowing indeterminacy to wriggle out from under the pall of subjection.
  • It is the type of development that might have been further potentialised in terms of its capacity for international and global linkage.


Late Middle English: from late Latin potentialis, from potentia 'power', from potent- 'being able' (see potent1). The noun dates from the early 19th century.

Words that rhyme with potential

cadential, confidential, consequential, credential, deferential, differential, essential, evidential, existential, experiential, exponential, influential, intelligential, irreverential, jurisprudential, penitential, pestilential, preferential, presidential, providential, prudential, quintessential, referential, residential, reverential, sapiential, sciential, sentential, sequential, tangential, torrential

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: po¦ten|tial

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