power


power
power n 1 Power, force, energy, strength, might, puissance mean the ability to exert effort for a purpose.
Power is the most general of these terms and denotes an ability to act or be acted upon, to effect something, or to affect or be affected by something
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the finest machine in the world is useless without a motor to give it power

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the mechanical power of the internal-combustion engine

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raise the productive power of the nation

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the sound of a great flood moving with majesty and powerCather

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give an attorney the power to act for one

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in any link between past and present there was potent magic, some power to evoke allegiance— Hervey

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hateful to feel their power over me when I knew that they were nothing but fancies— Hudson

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Force (see also FORCE 2) implies the exhibition or the exercise of power; the term usually carries with it a suggestion of actually overcoming resistance (as by setting a thing in motion or accelerating its motion or driving a person or thing in the desired direction); thus, one having the power to do something exerts force only when he actually does it
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a wind gathers force

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accumulated force which drove them as if discharged from a crossbow— Jefferies

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a hard and rebellious element not to be conquered mainly by skill . . . but mainly by forceEllis

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the perverse wish to flee . . . not from the laws and customs of the world but from its force and vitality— Cheever

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Therefore force is often applied to a person or thing that exerts its power with marked efficacy or efficiency
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they believed that the Church was the only force which could consolidate the nation— Inge

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art is but the expression of a harmony of life, a fine balance of all the forces of the human spirit— Binyon

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Energy in general use and especially as applied to persons implies stored-up power releasing itself in work or craving such release
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the prodigious energy put forth by industry in time of waxMorrison

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in spite of his small size and fragile build, the man was a dynamo of energy and could perform the labors of a Titan— Wolfe

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it was marvelous . . . that the energy of her spirit could carry through so triumphantly her frail nervous system— Ellis

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Strength applies to the power that resides in a person or thing as a result of qualities or properties that enable him or it to exert force or to manifest energy or to resist pressure, strain, stress, or attack. Physically strength implies soundness (as of health or of construction or design)
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the tensile strength of a rope

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I was not delicate, not physically; when it was a matter of strength I had as much as the next man— Mailer

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while mentally and morally it may imply capacity for endurance or resolution or intrepidity
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show strength in temptation

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strength to surmount the horrors and humiliations of . . . defeat— O'Donovan

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When applied to military forces it usually implies power manifest in such things as numbers, equipment, and resources
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Estimate the strength of the enemy

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a fleet incomparable in strength

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Might and puissance are rather rhetorical or poetic words meaning operative or effective power or force.
Might often suggests great or superhuman power; it is therefore appropriate when the reference is to supernatural beings or supranatural forces or to human power that is so strong that it cannot be gainsaid
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protect us by thy might, Great God, our King— S. F. Smith

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let us have faith that right makes mightLincoln

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the pride and might and vivid strength of things— Galsworthy

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Puissance is often indistinguishable from might, but it can also connote an impressive display of power
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we should advance ourselves to look with forehead bold and big enough upon the power and puissance of the King— Shak.

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the sapience and puissance of the American businessman in general—G. W. Johnson

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Analogous words: *ability, capacity, capability: *gift, genius, talent, faculty: qualification, competence (see corresponding adjectives at ABLE)
Antonyms: impotence
2 Power, faculty, function can all mean an ability of a living being to act or perform in a given way or a capacity for a particular kind of action or performance.
Power, the comprehensive term of this group, may apply to a capacity for action or performance that does not or apparently does not call the mind into play
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the power to digest food

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the power of reflex movement

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but it more frequently applies to an ability or capacity that involves either mental activity or mental receptiveness
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the power to think clearly

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the human mind is a fearful instrument ... in its mysterious powers of resilience, self-protection, and self- healing— Wolfe

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Faculty in general, as distinct from technical psychological or metaphysical use, is applicable to those powers which are the possession of every normal human being, though not always manifested in the first months of infancy or the earliest years of childhood
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the faculty of hearing

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the faculty of speech

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or it may apply to any one of the several specific powers of the mind (as will, memory, and reason) that are often felt as discrete and discoverable
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the truth is that memory and imagination, the two most important human faculties, are scarcely cultivated at all— Grandgent

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Sometimes faculty means no more than a distinguishable capacity of the functioning mind or soul
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once a thing did become pertinent, he had an amazing faculty for absorbing it wholly— Terry Southern

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her faculty for moral perception had withdrawn into that dim neutrality— Hervey

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it is the one occasion when violent grief, disturbing his faculties, appears in his correspondence— Belloc

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Function may denote an activity which can be more or less definitely associated with the brain or the central nervous system or a part of either
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all mental activities, such as seeing, hearing, perceiving, conceiving, imagining, recalling, etc., are termed functionsMurchison

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or it may apply to one (as digestion or respiration) in which the mental component is slight or obscure.
3 Power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion are comparable when they mean the right or prerogative of determining, ruling, or governing or the exercise of that right or prerogative.
Power even in this specific sense never loses its fundamental implication of ability, but in this case it is a capacity for rule that may derive from rank, office, or even character or personality
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in an absolute monarchy the king has sole power

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it is a strange desire, to seek power, and to lose liberty; or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man's self— Bacon

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for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever— Mt 6:13

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Power when used with reference to a definite person or body or office commonly connotes divisibility or strict limitation
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the trustees have power of appointment

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the charter gives the city power to tax sales

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he was given power of attorney to act for his brother

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it is not enough that a statute goes to the verge of constitutional power. We must be able to see clearly that it goes beyond that powerJustice Holmes

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Authority is often used interchangeably with power; nevertheless, there can be an essential difference in meaning, since authority usually refers to power resident in or exercised by another than oneself; thus, one may have power, rather than authority, to determine one's own actions, but a parent or a master or a ruler has the authority, rather than the power, to determine the actions of those under him; children are obedient to authority rather than to power
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they were both getting childish and needed care and yet they resented any loss of authorityBuck

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the object is to induce the child to lend of his own free will; so long as authority is required, the end aimed at has not been achieved— Russell

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authority in the religious sphere generally means absolute or infallible authority, such as Catholics ascribe to the Church— Inge

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Power and authority, especially in the plural, often refer to the persons who have or hold power or authority as defined. Powers, however, usually occurs in the phrase "the powers that be" and is either somewhat more comprehensive or less explicit in its reference than "the authorities," which often means the persons who have authority in the special instance to direct, to decide, or to punish
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he is always in instinctive opposition to the powers that be

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he threatened to report the offense to the authorities

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Jurisdiction implies possession of legal or actual power to determine, to rule, or to govern within definitely assigned limits, and of the authority to so act in all matters coming within the sphere of that power
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the principle of law is too well settled to be disputed, that a court can give no judgment for either party, where it has no jurisdictionTaney

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this new and populous community must, for the present, the Kansas Bishop wrote, be accounted under Father Latour's jurisdictionCather

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Control stresses possession of the authority to restrain or curb and its effective exercise, or of actual power to regulate or keep responsive to one's will not only persons but things; thus, a teacher who has lost control of his class has reached a point where the pupils no longer recognize his authority; a fire has gone beyond control when those who are fighting it have lost all power to check it
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completely out of control, the woman had shrugged off her husband's embarrassed efforts to stop her— Wouk

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he was at last in triumphant control of his destiny— Wolfe

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Command implies such control as makes one the master of men, and such authority that obedience to one's order or one's will either inevitably follows or is inexorably enforced; thus, one speaks of the officer in command, rather than in control, of a regiment; a person has command of a situation when he completely dominates it or has all persons or things involved in it under control
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how, in one house, should many people, under two commands, hold amity?— Shak.

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Command is also used in reference to things which one has mastered so thoroughly that one encounters no resistance or inter-ference in using, recalling, or controlling them
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his brush did its work with a steady and sure stroke that indicated command of his materials— Jefferies

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Something beyond disorderly or careless thinking, something close to a complete loss of emotional commandAnthony West

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Sway tends to be slightly rhetorical because its use in this sense was originally figurative and the word still carries a hint of its original implications of swinging or sweeping through an arc or circle; hence, when a word is desired that means power but also connotes extent or scope and such added matters as preponderant influence, compelling authority, or potency, sway is the appropriate choice
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the British Empire extended its sway to every quarter of the earth

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primal spirits beneath his swayShelley

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the law of compensation rules supreme in art, as it holds sway in life— Lowes

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Dominion imputes sovereignty to the power in question or supremacy to the authority in question
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God of our fathers, known of old, Lord of our far-flung battle line, beneath whose awful Hand we hold dominion over palm and pine— Kipling

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foreign dominion in any shape would soon become hateful— Freeman

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Analogous words: *right, privilege, prerogative, birthright: management, direction (see corresponding verbs at CONDUCT): ascendancy, *supremacy

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

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