From Middle French énergie, from Late Latin energia, from Ancient Greek ἐνέργεια (enérgeia, activity), from ἐνεργός (energós, active), from ἐν (en, in) + ἔργον (érgon, work). The sense in physics was coined by Thomas Young in 1802 in his lectures on Natural Philosophy.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɛn.ə.d͡ʒi/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɛn.ɚ.d͡ʒi/
  • (file)


energy (countable and uncountable, plural energies)

  1. The impetus behind all motion and all activity.
    • 2013 June 1, “Ideas coming down the track”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 13 (Technology Quarterly):
      A “moving platform” scheme [] is more technologically ambitious than maglev trains even though it relies on conventional rails. [] This set-up solves several problems […]. Stopping high-speed trains wastes energy and time, so why not simply slow them down enough for a moving platform to pull alongside?
  2. The capacity to do work.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828:
      There is an hour or two, after the passengers have embarked, which is disquieting and fussy. [] Stewards, carrying cabin trunks, swarm in the corridors. Passengers wander restlessly about or hurry, with futile energy, from place to place.
  3. (physics) A quantity that denotes the ability to do work and is measured in a unit dimensioned in mass × distance²/time² (ML²/T²) or the equivalent.
    SI: joule (J), kilowatt-hour (kW·h)
    CGS: erg (erg)
    Customary: foot-pound-force, calorie, kilocalorie (i.e. dietary calories), BTU, liter-atmosphere, ton of TNT
  4. An intangible, modifiable force (often characterized as either 'positive' or 'negative') believed in some New Age religions to emanate from a person, place or thing and which is (or can be) preserved and transferred in human interactions; shared mood or group habit; a vibe, a feeling, an impression. (Compare aura.)
    • 2004, Phylameana L. Desy, The Everything Reiki Book, Body, Mind & Spirit, p.130
      Reiki, much like prayer, is a personal exercise that can easily convert negative energy into positive energy.
    • 2009, Christopher Johns, Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, John Wiley & Sons, p.15
      Negative feelings can be worked through and their energy converted into positive energy []. In crisis, normal patterns of self-organization fail, resulting in anxiety (negative energy). Being open systems, people can exchange this energy with the environment and create positive energy for taking action based on a reorganisation of self as necessary to resolve the crisis and emerge at a higher level of consciousness; that is, until the next crisis.
    • 2011, Anne Jones, Healing Negative Energies, Hachette, p.118
      If you have been badly affected by negative energy a salt bath is wonderful for clearing and cleansing yourself []. Salt attracts negative energy and will draw it away from you.
  5. (Eastern Orthodoxy, theology, often in the plural) The external actions and influences resulting from an entity’s internal nature (ousia) and by which it is made manifest, as opposed to that internal nature itself; the aspect of an entity that can affect the wider world and be apprehended by other beings.
    • 2003, Carl S. Tyneh, Orthodox Christianity: Overview and Bibliography, page 21:
      The three Persons of the Holy Trinity have the same opinion, make the same decision, and put forth the same energy and action.
    • 2017, Stoyan Tanev, Energy in Orthodox Theology and Physics: From Controversy to Encounter, quoting and translating the conclusions of the Fifth Council of Constantinople (1351), page 2:
      We hold, further, that there are two energies in our Lord Jesus Christ. For He possesses on the one hand, as God and being of like essence with the Father, the divine energy, and, likewise, since He became man and of like essence to us, the energy proper to human nature. […] Energy is the efficient and essential activity of nature; the capacity for energy is the nature from which proceeds energy; the product of energy is that which is effected by energy; and the agent of energy is the person or subsistence which uses the energy.
    • 2019, Paul Ladouceur, Modern Orthodox Theology: Behold, I Make All Things New, page 368–369:
      The doctrine of the divine energies states that the divine essence, God-in-himself, is unknowable to any creature, whereas God makes himself known in creation by his divine energies, which are inseparable from the divine essence yet distinct from it. Humans know and experience God through his energies. […] Energies are indeed God, but God is more than his energies.
  6. (role-playing games, video games, board games) A measure of how many actions a player or unit can take; in the fantasy genre often called magic points or mana.
    Synonym: action points



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Related termsEdit


  • Cebuano: enerdyi



Further readingEdit