Potence has absolutely nothing to do with soy.
(Scottish) A rotating ladder providing access to the nesting boxes inside beehive-type doocots.
In French, a gibbet and various other cantilevered beam constructions such as the handlebar stem on a bicycle; the suggestion that this has something to do with the vague similarity in structure (or at least in sticking-outness) to an erect (and hence presumably potent) penis is etymologically unfounded and undoubtedly deeply Freudian.
Po"tence (?), n. [F., fr. LL. potentia staff, crutch, L., might, power. See Potency.]
Sir W. Hamilton.
© Webster 1913.
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