# Dictionary Definition

potential adj

1 existing in possibility; "a potential problem";
"possible uses of nuclear power" [syn: possible] [ant: actual]

2 expected to become or be; in prospect;
"potential clients"; "expected income" [syn: expected, likely]

### Noun

1 the inherent capacity for coming into being
[syn: potentiality,
potency]

2 the difference in electrical charge between two
points in a circuit expressed in volts [syn: electric
potential, potential
difference, potential
drop, voltage]

# User Contributed Dictionary

### Noun

- Currently unfulfilled capacity to improve, develop, and achieve
impressive feats.
- Even from a young age it was clear that she had great musical potential.

- Anything that may be possible; a possibility; potentially.
- In the theory of gravitation, or of other forces acting in space, a function of the rectangular coordinates which determine the position of a point, such that its differential coefficients with respect to the coordinates are equal to the components of the force at the point considered; -- also called potential function, or force function. It is called also Newtonian potential when the force is directed to a fixed center and is inversely as the square of the distance from the center.
- The energy of an electrical charge measured by its power to do work; hence, the degree of electrification as referred to some standard, as that of the earth; electro-motive force.
- A verbal construction or form stating something is possible or probable.

#### Translations

a function

- German: Potential

energy of an electrical charge

### Adjective

- Being potent; endowed with energy adequate to a result; efficacious; influential.
- Existing in possibility, not in actuality.
- Referring to a verbal construction of form stating something is possible or probable.

# Extensive Definition

- The mathematical study of potentials is known as potential theory; it is the study of harmonic functions on manifolds. This mathematical formulation arises from the fact that, in physics, the scalar potential is irrotational, and thus has a vanishing Laplacian — the very definition of a harmonic function.
- In physics, a
potential may refer to the scalar
potential or to the vector
potential. In either case, it is a field
defined in space, from which many important physical properties may
be derived.
- Leading examples are the gravitational potential and the electric potential, from which the motion of gravitating or electrically charged bodies may be obtained.
- Many entities in physics may be described as vector fields, but it is often easier to work with the corresponding potentials as proxies for the fields themselves. For instance, some force fields exert forces on a body equal to the product of the field and some invariant scalar property of the body, such as the mass or charge. As a body moves through such a force field, it rises and falls in the field's potential, gaining and losing energy through mechanical work. This exchange of energy allows the interaction to be analyzed in terms of simple laws of conservation of energy, without resorting to kinematics, which can be computationally difficult.
- In electrochemistry there are Galvani potential and Volta potential.
- The gravitational field is a notable example of such a field. The electric field also behaves this way in many cases, though in the general case it does not (see Electric potential and Faraday's Law).

- Specific forces have associated potentials, including the Coulomb potential, the van der Waals potential, the Lennard-Jones potential and the Yukawa potential.

## See also

potential in Spanish: Potencial

potential in German: Potential

potential in French: Potentiel

potential in Italian: Potenziale

potential in Dutch: Potentiaal

potential in Japanese: ポテンシャル

potential in Polish: Potencjał

potential in Russian: Потенциал

potential in Slovenian: Potencial

potential in Swedish: Potential

potential in Lithuanian: Potencialas

# Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

EMF,
ability, aptitude, bare possibility,
between the lines, budding, bump, caliber, capability, capacity, chance, cogitable, concealed, conceivability, conceivable, conceivableness,
conceivably possible, conditional, contingency, contingent, covert, cryptic, delitescent, developing, dormant, dower, dowry, electric potential,
electromotive force, electromotivity,
embryonic, endowment, equipment, esoteric, even chance, eventuality, faculty, flair, forte, future, genius, gift, good chance, good
possibility, hibernating, hidden, hope, humanly possible, imaginable, imminent, imperative, implicit, implied, indicative, instinct, jussive, latent, likelihood, likely, long suit, lurking, makings, metier, mode, mood, muffled, mystic, natural endowment,
natural gift, obfuscated, obligative, obscured, occult, off chance, optative, outside chance,
outside hope, parts,
passive, permissive, plausible, possibilities, possibility, possible, possibleness, potency, potential difference,
potentiality,
power, powers, probability, probable, prospect, qualification, quiescent, remote possibility,
sleeping, small hope,
speciality, strong
flair, strong point, subjunctive, submerged, talent, talents, the attainable, the
feasible, the goods, the possible, the stuff, thinkability, thinkable, thinkableness, under the
surface, underlying,
undeveloped,
unmanifested,
unrealized, veiled, virtual, virtuality, volt, voltage, what is possible, what
it takes, what may be, what might be