Pow"er (?), n. Zool.

Same as Poor, the fish.


© Webster 1913.

Pow"er, n. [OE. pouer, poer, OF. poeir, pooir, F. pouvoir, n. & v., fr. LL. potere, for L. posse, potesse, to be able, to have power. See Possible, Potent, and cf. Posse comitatus.]


Ability to act, regarded as latent or inherent; the faculty of doing or performing something; capacity for action or performance; capability of producing an effect, whether physical or moral: potency; might; as, a man of great power; the power of capillary attraction; money gives power.

"One next himself in power, and next in crime."



Ability, regarded as put forth or exerted; strength, force, or energy in action; as, the power of steam in moving an engine; the power of truth, or of argument, in producing conviction; the power of enthusiasm.

"The power of fancy."



Capacity of undergoing or suffering; fitness to be acted upon; susceptibility; -- called also passive power; as, great power of endurance.

Power, then, is active and passive; faculty is active power or capacity; capacity is passive power. Sir W. Hamilton.


The exercise of a faculty; the employment of strength; the exercise of any kind of control; influence; dominion; sway; command; government.

Power is no blessing in itself but when it is employed to protect the innocent. Swift.


The agent exercising an ability to act; an individual invested with authority; an institution, or government, which exercises control; as, the great powers of Europe; hence, often, a superhuman agent; a spirit; a divinity.

"The powers of darkness."


And the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Matt. xxiv. 29.


A military or naval force; an army or navy; a great host.


Never such a power . . . Was levied in the body of a land. Shak.


A large quantity; a great number; as, a power o good things.



8. Mech. (a)

The rate at which mechanical energy is exerted or mechanical work performed, as by an engine or other machine, or an animal, working continuously; as, an engine of twenty horse power.

⇒ The English unit of power used most commonly is the horse power. See Horse power.


A mechanical agent; that from which useful mechanical energy is derived; as, water power; steam power; hand power, etc.


Applied force; force producing motion or pressure; as, the power applied at one and of a lever to lift a weight at the other end


⇒ This use in mechanics, of power as a synonym for force, is improper and is becoming obsolete.


A machine acted upon by an animal, and serving as a motor to drive other machinery; as, a dog power


Power is used adjectively, denoting, driven, or adapted to be driven, by machinery, and not actuated directly by the hand or foot; as, a power lathe; a power loom; a power press.

9. Math.

The product arising from the multiplication of a number into itself; as, a square is the second power, and a cube is third power, of a number.

10. () Metaph.

Mental or moral ability to act; one of the faculties which are possessed by the mind or soul; as, the power of thinking, reasoning, judging, willing, fearing, hoping, etc.

I. Watts.

The guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprise of my powers, drove the grossness . . . into a received belief. Shak.

11. Optics

The degree to which a lens, mirror, or any optical instrument, magnifies; in the telescope, and usually in the microscope, the number of times it multiplies, or augments, the apparent diameter of an object; sometimes, in microscopes, the number of times it multiplies the apparent surface.

12. Law

An authority enabling a person to dispose of an interest vested either in himself or in another person; ownership by appointment.



Hence, vested authority to act in a given case; as, the business was referred to a committee with power.

Power may be predicated of inanimate agents, like the winds and waves, electricity and magnetism, gravitation, etc., or of animal and intelligent beings; and when predicated of these beings, it may indicate physical, mental, or moral ability or capacity.

Mechanical powers. See under Mechanical. -- Power loom, ∨ Power press. See Def. 8 (d), note. -- Power of attorney. See under Attorney. -- Power of a point (relative to a given curve) Geom., the result of substituting the coordinates of any point in that expression which being put equal to zero forms the equation of the curve; as, x2 + y2 - 100 is the power of the point x, y, relative to the circle x2 + y2 - 100 = 0.


© Webster 1913.