Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: poeir, from poeir 'to be able', from Latin potere; POTENT


1 noun
pow‧er1 S1 W1


[uncountable] the ability or right to control people or events [↪ powerful, powerless]:
We all felt that the chairman had too much power.
power over
People should have more power over the decisions that affect their lives.
the enormous economic power of the US
Workers had little political power.
the balance of power between management and unions
He was engaged in a bitter power struggle with the director (=a situation in which groups or leaders try to get control).
Nothing will change until there are more women in positions of power.
power-hungry politicians
The bishops had almost absolute power.
the power wielded by unelected civil servants (=which they have and use)


[uncountable] the position of having political control of a country or government
in power
The dictator had been in power for seven years.
the party in power
come/rise to power (=start having political control)
De Gaulle came to power in 1958.
They seized power in a military coup.


[uncountable] the ability to influence people or give them strong feelings [↪ powerful, powerless]
power of
the power of his writing
the immense power of television
the pulling power (=ability to attract people or attention) of major celebrities
student/black/consumer etc power (=the political or social influence a particular group has)


[uncountable and countable] the right or authority to do something:
The police have been given special powers to help them in the fight against terrorism.
power to do something
The committee has the power to order an enquiry.
power of arrest/veto etc
The chairman has the power of veto on all decisions.


[uncountable and countable] a natural or special ability to do something:
After the accident she lost the power of speech (=ability to speak).
powers of observation/concentration/persuasion
a writer's powers of observation
your mental powers
a stone with magical powers


[uncountable] energy that can be used to make a machine work or to make electricity
nuclear/wind/solar etc power
Many people are opposed to the use of nuclear power.
the search for renewable sources of power
under power
The ship was able to leave port under its own power (=without help from another machine, ship etc).

earning/purchasing/bargaining etc power

PE the ability to earn money, buy things etc:
Property in the city is beyond the purchasing power of most people.
your bargaining power in pay negotiations


[uncountable] the physical strength or effect of something [↪ powerful]:
the power of a cheetah's long legs
The power of the explosion smashed windows across the street.


[uncountable]TPE electricity that is used in houses, factories etc:
Make sure the power is switched off first.
power cut/failure/outage (=a short time when the electricity supply is not working)
Parts of the country have had power cuts because of the storms.
The power came back on.

air/sea power

the number of planes or ships that a country has available to use in a war

strong country

[countable] a country that is strong and important and can influence events, or that has a lot of military strength [↪ powerful, powerless]:
Egypt is still a major power in the Middle East.
world power (=a country that can influence events in different parts of the world)

be in/within somebody's power (to do something)

if it is in someone's power to do something, they have the authority or ability to do it:
I wish it was within my power to change the decision.
do everything/all in your power
The ambassador promised to do everything in his power to get the hostages released.

be beyond somebody's power (to do something)

if it is beyond someone's power to do something, they do not have the authority or ability to do it:
It's beyond the power of the court to make such a decision.

be in somebody's power

literary to be in a situation in which someone has complete control over you

do somebody a power of good

British English informal to make someone feel more healthy, happy, and hopeful about the future:
It looks as if your holiday has done you a power of good.


[countable]HM if a number is increased to the power of three, four, five etc, it is multiplied by itself three, four, five etc times

the powers that be

the unknown people who have important positions of authority and power, and whose decisions affect your life:
The powers that be don't want the media to get hold of the story.


[uncountable] technical the ability of a lens, for example in a pair of glasses or a microscope, to make things look bigger

the powers of good/evil/darkness

RO unknown or magical forces that people believe can influence events in a good or evil way

a power in the land

old-fashioned someone who has a lot of power and influence in a country

the power behind the throne

someone who secretly controls and influences decisions made by the leader or government of a country, but who does not have an official government position

power trip

informal if you are on a power trip, you are enjoying your power or authority in a way that other people think is unpleasant

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