Meaning of POTENTIAL in English

I. pəˈtenchəl, pōˈ- adjective

Etymology: Middle English potencial, from Late Latin potentialis potential, powerful, from Late Latin potentia dynamis, state of that which is not yet fully realized & Latin potentia potency, power + Latin -alis -al


a. : existing in possibility : having the capacity or a strong possibility for development into a state of actuality

field studies of existing and potential book markets — Collier's Year Book

the detection of incipient or potential disease of the nervous system — H.G.Armstrong

too small to provide … for the potential needs for reconstruction and development that will emerge in the postwar years — L.G.Melville

potential leader

potential profit

potential use

— compare actual

b. : having the capacity for acting or being acted upon and hence for undergoing change — compare potency

2. archaic : potent II

3. : expressing possibility

potential subjunctive

specifically : of, relating to, or constituting a verb phrase expressing possibility, liberty, or power by the use of an auxiliary (as may, can ) with the infinitive of the verb (as in “it may rain”, “he can write”)

Synonyms: see latent

II. noun

( -s )

1. : something that exists in a state of potency or possibility for changing or developing into a state of actuality

industrial location in new areas will make use of labor and other potentials which might otherwise remain untapped — New Republic

a sound source with an unplumbed potential for novelty and expression — Time

in joining together at fertilization, germ cells add to the total gene potential of an organism by the fusion of two heredities — Weston LaBarre

growth potential

human potential

industrial potential

leadership potential

military potential

2. : any of various functions (as a scalar function so related to the vector that the vector is its gradient) from which the intensity or the velocity at any point in a field may be calculated ; specifically : electric potential

III. noun

: potential difference

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