power (n.)

c. 1300, pouer, "ability; ability to act or do; strength, vigor, might," especially in battle; "efficacy; control, mastery, lordship, dominion, ability or right to command or control; 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 (source also of Spanish poder, Italian 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, person in authority or exercising great influence in a community" is late 14c. Meaning "a specific ability or capacity" is from early 15c. In mechanics, "that with which work can be done," by 1727.

Sense of "property of an inanimate thing or agency of modifying other things" is by 1590s. Meaning "a state or nation with regard to international authority or influence" [OED] is from 1726. Meaning "energy available for work is from 1727. Sense of "electrical supply" is from 1896.

Colloquial a power of for "a large quantity of, a great number of" is from 1660s (compare powerful). Phrase the powers that be "the authorities concerned" is from Romans xiii.1. As a statement wishing good luck, more power to(someone) is recorded from 1842. A man-advantage power play in ice hockey so called by 1940. Power failure "failure of the (electrical) power supply" is from 1911; power steering in a motor vehicle is from 1921. Power politics "political action based on or backed by threats of force" (1937) translates German Macht-politik.

Origin and meaning of power

power (v.)

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

updated on October 13, 2021

Definitions of power from WordNet
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
power (v.)
supply the force or power for the functioning of;
The gasoline powers the engines
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.