Words related to power


Proto-Indo-European root meaning "powerful; lord." 

It forms all or part of: bashaw; compos mentis; despot; hospodar; host (n.1) "person who receives guests;" idempotent; impotent; omnipotent; pasha; plenipotentiary; posse; possess; possible; potence; potency; potent; potentate; potential; potentiate; potentiometer; power; totipotent

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit patih "master, husband;" Greek posis, Lithuanian patis "husband;" Latin potis "powerful, able, capable; possible." 

empower (v.)

"to give power or authority to," 1650s, also impower, from assimilated form of en- (1) + power (n.). Used by Milton, Beaumont, Pope, Jefferson, Macaulay, but the modern popularity dates from 1986. Related: Empowered; empowering.

firepower (n.)
also fire-power "effectiveness of military fire," 1891, from fire (n.) + power (n.).
horsepower (n.)
also horse-power, unit for measurement of the rate at which a motor works, 1805, from horse (n.) + power (n.); established by Watt as the power needed to lift 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute, which actually is about 1.5 times the power of a strong horse. Much abused in 19c. technical writing as "very fallacious," "shockingly unscientific," etc.
hydropower (n.)

"hydroelectric power," 1922, from hydro- (short for hydro-electric) + power (n.).

manpower (n.)

also man-power, 1855, "the power of a man in work," from man (n.) + power (n.). Proposed in 1824 as a specific unit of measure of power. From 1917 as "the number of persons available for some purpose."

power-broker (n.)

"one who by intrigue exerts influence on the distribution of political power," 1961, apparently coined by (or at least popularized by) T.H. White in reference to the 1960 U.S. presidential election; from power (n.) + broker (n.).

powerful (adj.)

c. 1400, pouerful, "mighty, having great strength or power," from power (n.) + -ful. Sense of "capable of exerting great force or power" is from 1580s.

Meaning "of great quality or number" is from 1811; hence the colloquial sense of "exceedingly, extremely" (adv.) is from 1822. Thornton ("American Glossary") notes powerful, along with monstrous,  as "Much used by common people in the sense of very," and cites curious expressions such as devilish good, monstrous pretty (1799), dreadful polite, cruel pretty, abominable fine (1803), "or when a young lady admires a lap dog for being so vastly small and declares him prodigious handsome" (1799).

This gross perversion is common in several of the Western counties of Pennsylvania, to which region I had supposed it was limited. A gentleman informs me, however that it is not unfrequent in the South, and that he has even heard it yoked with weak, as, A powerful weak man. [Seth T. Hurd, "A Grammatical Corrector; or, Vocabulary of the Common Errors of Speech," 1847]

Related: Powerfully; powerfulness.

power-house (n.)

also powerhouse, 1873, "building where power is generated (by steam, electricity, etc.) to drive machinery," from power (n.) + house (n.). Figurative sense "source of energy or inspiration" is by 1913.

powerless (adj.)

early 15c., pouerles, "lacking might or fortitude," from power (n.) + -less. Related: Powerlessly; powerlessness.