[po.ten.tial] adj [ME potencial, fr. LL potentialis, fr. potentia potentiality, fr. L, power, fr. potent-, potens] (14c) 1: existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality "~ benefits"
2: expressing possibility; specif: of, relating to, or constituting a verb phrase expressing possibility, liberty, or power by the use of an auxiliary with the infinitive of the verb (as in "it may rain") syn see latent -- po.ten.tial.ly adv
potential n (1817) 1 a: something that can develop or become actual "a ~ for violence" b: promise
2. 2 a: any of various functions from which the intensity or the velocity at any point in a field may be readily calculated b: the work required to move a unit positive charge from a reference point (as at infinity) to a point in question c: potential difference