Meaning of CAPACITY in English

I. kəˈpasəd.ē, -s(ə)tē, -ˈaa-, -i noun

( -es )

Etymology: Middle English capacite, from Middle French capacité, from Latin capacitat-, capacitas, from capac-, capax capacious, capable + -itat-, -itas -ity — more at capacious


a. : the power or ability to hold, receive, or accommodate

had our great palace the capacity to camp this host, we all would sup together — Shakespeare

b. obsolete : an empty space : a hollowed-out area : cavity

c. : a containing space : a measure of content for gas, liquid, or solid : the amount held : the measured ability to contain : volume

a tank with a capacity of 20 gallons

the air capacity of a normal lung

one modern cement elevator has a storage capacity of 114,000 barrels — American Guide Series: Minnesota

d. : the ability to absorb

the capacity of warm air for moisture

e. : the ability to accommodate people : the size or number of accommodations : the condition of maximum service with all accommodations used

an auditorium with a seating capacity of 5000

taxing the capacities of nearby hospitals

the stadium was filled to capacity

f. : the ability to store, process, treat, manufacture, or produce : an instrumentality or facility for production : maximum processing, production, or output

a flood of war orders that strained the capacity of factories long idle — Oscar Handlin

the largest spruce mill in the world, with a capacity of 400,000 board feet every eight hours — American Guide Series: Oregon

steel mills operating at capacity

a generating capacity measured in kilovolt amperes

g. : the ability to yield and to sustain

ranchers considering the carrying capacity of the range lands


(1) : capacitance

(2) : the quantity of electricity that a battery can deliver under specified conditions

i. : the ability of a stream to transport detritus as measured by the quantity carried past a point in a certain time — compare competence

j. : potentiality for production or use : maximum potentiality : facilities for production or service

2. : legal qualification, competency, power, or fitness


a. : ability , caliber , stature

b. : mental power, capability, and acumen blended to enable one to grasp ideas, to analyze and judge, and to cope with problems : maximum potential mental ability

inexpressibly ordinary, yet giving an impression of capacity — G.K.Chesterton

not a philosophical treatise but a work intended for the capacity of the popular mind — S.F.Mason

c. : blended power, strength, and ability

encourage physical activity to the limit of the child's capacity — Morris Fishbein

the capacities of present-day rockets — Time

d. : capability or faculty for executing, considering, appreciating, or experiencing — used with for or an infinitive

with all her capacity for violence, Lola possessed also a strong capacity for affection — Margaret Mead

a capacity for delicate discrimination — J.L.Lowes

the capacity of American idealism to survive a major disillusionment — Archibald MacLeish


a. archaic : a situation enabling or making capable

a ship in a capacity to begin the battle

b. : a position, character, or role either duly assigned or assumed without sanction

in his capacity as legal adviser

served the government in several capacities

- at capacity

II. adjective

: attaining to or equaling maximum capacity

a capacity crowd

capacity production of electricity

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.