See also: Potential



From Late Latin potentialis, from Latin potentia (power), from potens (powerful); synchronically analysable as potent +‎ -ial.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /pəˈtɛnʃəl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /po(ʊ)ˈtɛnʃəl/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: po‧ten‧tial


potential (countable and uncountable, plural potentials)

  1. Currently unrealized ability (with the most common adposition being to)
    Even from a young age it was clear that she had the potential to become a great musician.
    • 1990, The Hunt for Red October, OCLC 1003894682:
      Comrades, our own fleet doesn't know our full potential. They will do everything possible to test us, but they will only test their own embarrassment.
  2. (physics) The gravitational potential: the radial (irrotational, static) component of a gravitational field, also known as the Newtonian potential or the gravitoelectric field.
  3. (physics) The work (energy) required to move a reference particle from a reference location to a specified location in the presence of a force field, for example to bring a unit positive electric charge from an infinite distance to a specified point against an electric field.
  4. (grammar) A verbal construction or form stating something is possible or probable.



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potential (not comparable)

  1. Existing in possibility, not in actuality.
    Synonyms: noumenal, spiritual, virtual
    Antonyms: actual, phenomenal, real
    • 1858, Thomas Carlyle, Chartism, Chapman & Hall, page 229:
      The heroic man,—and is not every man, God be thanked, a potential hero?—has to do so, in all times and circumstances.
  2. (archaic) Being potent; endowed with energy adequate to a result
    Synonyms: efficacious, influential
    • 1603, William Shakespeare, Othello:
      And hath, in his effect, a voice potential
  3. (physics) A potential field is an irrotational (static) field.
    • 1997, Physics-Uspekhi, volume 40, number 1-6, American Institute of Physics, page 39:
      From Maxwell equations (6.20) it follows that the electric field is potential: E(r) = −gradφ(r).
  4. (physics) A potential flow is an irrotational flow.
    • 2009, Grigory E. Volovik, The Universe in a Helium Droplet[1], Oxford University Press, page 60:
      The non-viscous flow of the vacuum should be potential (irrotational).
  5. (grammar) Referring to a verbal construction of form stating something is possible or probable.

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potential c

  1. potential


Declension of potential 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative potential potentialen potentialer potentialerna
Genitive potentials potentialens potentialers potentialernas

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