Advertisement

power (n.)

c. 1300, "ability; ability to act or do; strength, vigor, might," especially in battle; "efficacy; control, mastery, lordship, dominion; legal power or authority; authorization; military force, an army," from Anglo-French pouair, Old French povoir, noun use of the infinitive, "to be able," earlier podir (9c.), from Vulgar Latin *potere, from Latin potis "powerful" (from PIE root *poti- "powerful; lord").

Whatever some hypocritical ministers of government may say about it, power is the greatest of all pleasures. It seems to me that only love can beat it, and love is a happy illness that can't be picked up as easily as a Ministry. [Stendhal "de l'Amour," 1822]

Meaning "one who has power" is late 14c. Meaning "specific ability or capacity" is from early 15c. Meaning "a state or nation with regard to international authority or influence" [OED] is from 1726. Used for "a large number of" from 1660s. Meaning "energy available for work is from 1727. Sense of "electrical supply" is from 1896.

Phrase the powers that be is from Romans xiii.1. As a statement wishing good luck, more power to (someone) is recorded from 1842. A power play in ice hockey so called by 1940. Power failure is from 1911; power steering from 1921.

Origin and meaning of power

power (v.)

"to supply with power," 1898, from power (n.). Earlier it meant "make powerful" (1530s). Related: Powered; powering.

Others are reading

Advertisement
Definitions of power from WordNet
1
power (n.)
possession of controlling influence;
the power of his love saved her
the deterrent power of nuclear weapons
Synonyms: powerfulness
power (n.)
(physics) the rate of doing work; measured in watts (= joules/second);
power (n.)
possession of the qualities (especially mental qualities) required to do something or get something done;
danger heightened his powers of discrimination
Synonyms: ability
power (n.)
(of a government or government official) holding an office means being in power;
during his first year in power
the power of the president
Synonyms: office
power (n.)
one possessing or exercising power or influence or authority;
the mysterious presence of an evil power
Synonyms: force
power (n.)
a mathematical notation indicating the number of times a quantity is multiplied by itself;
Synonyms: exponent / index
power (n.)
physical strength;
Synonyms: might / mightiness
power (n.)
a state powerful enough to influence events throughout the world;
Synonyms: world power / major power / great power / superpower
power (n.)
energy made available by the flow of electric charge through a conductor;
The power went oout around midnight
Synonyms: electricity / electrical energy
power (n.)
a very wealthy or powerful businessman;
Synonyms: baron / big businessman / business leader / king / magnate / mogul / top executive / tycoon
2
power (v.)
supply the force or power for the functioning of;
The gasoline powers the engines
From wordnet.princeton.edu