Meaning of POWER in English

I. pow ‧ er 1 S1 W1 /ˈpaʊə $ paʊr/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ power , ↑ superpower , ↑ powerlessness , ↑ empowerment ; adjective : ↑ powerful ≠ ↑ powerless , ↑ overpowering , ↑ power , ↑ powered ; verb : ↑ power , ↑ empower , ↑ overpower ; adverb : ↑ powerfully ≠ ↑ powerlessly , ↑ overpoweringly ]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: poeir , from poeir 'to be able' , from Latin potere ; ⇨ ↑ potent ]

1 . CONTROL [uncountable] the ability or right to control people or events ⇨ powerful , powerless

power over

People should have more power over the decisions that affect their lives.

power-mad/power-crazy/power-hungry (=wanting too much power)

power-hungry politicians

2 . GOVERNMENT [uncountable] the position of having political control of a country or government

in power

The voters have once again shown their support for 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.

3 . INFLUENCE [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)

4 . RIGHT/AUTHORITY [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.

5 . ABILITY [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

6 . ENERGY [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) .

7 . earning/purchasing/bargaining etc power 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

8 . STRENGTH [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.

9 . ELECTRICITY [uncountable] 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.

10 . air/sea power the number of planes or ships that a country has available to use in a war

11 . 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)

12 . be in/within sb’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.

13 . be beyond sb’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.

14 . be in sb’s power literary to be in a situation in which someone has complete control over you

15 . 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.

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

17 . 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.

18 . LENS [uncountable] technical the ability of a ↑ lens , for example in a pair of ↑ glass es or a ↑ microscope , to make things look bigger

19 . the powers of good/evil/darkness unknown or magical forces that people believe can influence events in a good or evil way

20 . a power in the land old-fashioned someone who has a lot of power and influence in a country

21 . 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

22 . 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

⇨ ↑ staying power , ↑ balance of power , ↑ high-powered

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ have power

People who have power never seem to use it to help others.

▪ get/gain power

Women were trying to gain power in a male-dominated world.

▪ use your power ( also exercise (your) power formal )

The party will use all its power and influence to raise the issue in the Senate.


Questions have been asked about the way the police exercised their power.

▪ wield power formal (=use power - used when someone has a lot of power)

The Church still wields enormous power in the country.

■ adjectives

▪ great/huge/enormous

The central banks have huge power.

▪ limited

The king's power was limited.

▪ political/economic/military power

countries with little economic power

▪ absolute power (=total power, with no limits)

Parents had absolute power over children in those days.

▪ unbridled power (=without any controls)

Certain wealthy men exercised unbridled power.

▪ real power

The real power lay with the President’s advisers.

■ phrases

▪ a power struggle (=a situation in which groups or leaders try to get control)

The country is locked in a power struggle between forces favouring and opposing change.

▪ the balance of power

There has been a shift in the balance of power between the two countries.

▪ a position of power (=a job or role that gives someone power)

Many of them were using their positions of power for personal advantage.

▪ an abuse of power (=a wrong or unfair use of power)

This cover-up is a scandalous abuse of power.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ be in power

The law was passed when the Democrats were in power.

▪ come to power (=start being in control)

Tony Blair came to power in 1997.

▪ take power (=start being in control, usually without an election)

Many people fled after the military took power last September.

▪ seize power (=take power by force)

His son seized power in a military coup.

▪ assume power formal (=take power)

He assumed power after the assassination of the former president.

▪ win power (=win an election)

The Prime Minister is facing his toughest challenge since winning power.

▪ rise to power

The Roman emperor Vespasian rose to power through command of an army.

▪ return/be returned to power (=start being in control again, usually after an election)

The party was returned to power with a reduced majority.

▪ hold power (=be in power)

Economic disaster befell the country during the decade when he held power.

▪ restore somebody to power (=put someone in control of a country again)

In 2004, the army restored him to power.

▪ sweep to power (=win an election easily)

Reagan swept to power by promising reforms.

▪ cling to power (=not lose it, or try not to lose it)

Mao Tse-tung, the leader of the 1949 Communist revolution, clung to power for 27 years.

■ phrases

▪ sb’s rise to power

The programme examines Saddam Hussein’s rise to power.

▪ sb’s return to power

Churchill’s return to power had an immediate effect upon Anglo-American relations.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 5)

■ adjectives

▪ mental powers

Is it possible to enhance your mental powers?

▪ creative powers

A music teacher should have a real interest in developing children’s creative powers.

▪ healing powers

The water was supposed to have healing powers.

▪ magical/special/miraculous powers

Diamonds were once thought to have magical powers.

■ phrases

▪ the power of speech

I was so surprised that I momentarily lost the power of speech.

▪ the power of flight

Some birds have lost the power of flight over millions of years.

▪ powers of observation

Experience improves our powers of observation, since it teaches us what to look for.

▪ powers of concentration

As you get older, your powers of concentration may decrease.

▪ powers of persuasion

She used all her powers of persuasion to convince Tilly that the move was a good idea.

▪ be at the height of your powers (=be at a time in your life when your abilities are strongest)

Fonteyn was still at the height of her powers as a dancer.

■ verbs

▪ lose a power

He was a brilliant speaker, who never lost the power to influence people.

▪ sb’s powers are failing/waning (=becoming less good)

Mark felt that his creative powers were waning.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 6)


▪ nuclear power

The accident raised doubts about the safety of nuclear power.

▪ solar power (=energy produced by sunlight)

They use solar power for all their heating.

▪ wind power (=energy produced by the wind)

Is wind power the answer to the energy crisis?

▪ wave power (=energy produced by waves in the sea)

Wave power can be used to generate electricity.

▪ hydroelectric power (=energy produced by flowing water)

The factory is run on hydroelectric power.

▪ steam power (=energy produced from steam)

Early engines were driven by steam power.

■ phrases

▪ a source of power

One problem is their reliance on coal as the main source of power.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 11)


▪ a great power

Britain wanted to maintain her status as a great power.

▪ a major power (=very important one)

There will be representatives from all the world's major powers at the conference.

▪ a world power (=one with influence all over the world)

The United States had replaced Great Britain as the dominant world power.

▪ a military/naval power (=with a very strong army or navy)

Russia had become a naval power equal to Spain.

▪ a foreign power

He was charged with spying for a foreign power.

• • •


▪ country an area of land controlled by its own government, president, king etc:

Thailand is a beautiful country.


Which country would you most like to visit?

▪ nation a country, considered especially in relation to its people and its political and economic structure:

The events shocked the whole nation.


The US is the most powerful nation in the world.


Leaders of the world’s major industrialized nations attended the meeting.

▪ state a country considered as a political organization with its own government:

They believe that Scotland should be an independent sovereign state.


Most European states joined the Council of Europe.

▪ power a country that is very strong and important:

a meeting of the great powers


Britain is still a world power.

▪ superpower one of the most powerful countries in the world:

During the Cuban Missile Crisis there was a real danger of conflict between the two world superpowers.

▪ land literary a country – used in stories:

He told them about his journeys to foreign lands.


a traveller from a far-off land

II. power 2 BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ power , ↑ superpower , ↑ powerlessness , ↑ empowerment ; adjective : ↑ powerful ≠ ↑ powerless , ↑ overpowering , ↑ power , ↑ powered ; verb : ↑ power , ↑ empower , ↑ overpower ; adverb : ↑ powerfully ≠ ↑ powerlessly , ↑ overpoweringly ]

1 . [transitive usually passive] to supply power to a vehicle or machine:

It’s powered by a Ferrari V12 engine.

2 . [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to move with a lot of force and speed:

His strong body powered through the water.

⇨ ↑ high-powered

power something ↔ up phrasal verb

to make a machine start working:

Never move a computer while it is powered up.

III. power 3 BrE AmE adjective [only before noun]

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ power , ↑ superpower , ↑ powerlessness , ↑ empowerment ; adjective : ↑ powerful ≠ ↑ powerless , ↑ overpowering , ↑ power , ↑ powered ; verb : ↑ power , ↑ empower , ↑ overpower ; adverb : ↑ powerfully ≠ ↑ powerlessly , ↑ overpoweringly ]

1 . driven by an electric motor:

power tools

power shower

2 . power breakfast/lunch etc informal a meal at which people meet to discuss business

3 . power suit informal clothes which you wear at work to make you look important or confident

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.