One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A mathematical function by the differentiation of which can be expressed the (gravitational, electromagnetic, etc.) force at any point in space arising from a system of bodies, electrical charges, etc. More widely: any function from which a vector field can be derived by differentiation.
Early 19th century. From potential + function. Compare potential and discussion at that entry.
potential function/pəˈtɛnʃl ˌfʌŋ(k)ʃn/
In this article we explore how to impress employers with a spot-on CV.