Definition of potential in US English:

potential

adjective

  • attributive Having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

    ‘a two-pronged campaign to woo potential customers’
    • ‘A prospectus for potential sponsors raises the prospect of boarding academies.’
    • ‘The range of potential targets for future intervention will grow correspondingly.’
    • ‘For potential investors, the prospect of enjoying cheap beer is far more appealing.’
    • ‘It's a version of last year's winning car, but perhaps near the end of its potential development.’
    • ‘Additionally, rarely will a new potential customer buy on the first visit.’
    • ‘Why is the government so timid about embryo research given the potential rewards?’
    • ‘There are many potential abuses that future governments may make of the information contained on a card.’
    • ‘A woman who has fallen on hard times finds a potential saviour among the gravestones.’
    • ‘Visitors to the city's boat show would also be among the potential guests targeted.’
    • ‘Many supermarkets now provide free buses to carry potential customers into their premises.’
    • ‘She admitted that potential savings were probably not top of the list, however.’
    • ‘Hunt said he was worried about the development because of the potential fire threat.’
    • ‘Instead the study was just a process to find out the potential capacity for new homes.’
    • ‘Links are also being developed with potential partners in New York, Dubai and Helsinki.’
    • ‘It is expressed in the present tense, and refers to current use, not past or future or potential use.’
    • ‘The history of the 1869 work is thought to have boosted its value among potential bidders.’
    • ‘They can be seen as potential development land by philistines who only see land as money waiting to happen.’
    • ‘This fusion of unfamiliar conditions would normally make the hosts among the potential winners.’
    • ‘New or potential customers may be located around the globe or in your local area.’
    • ‘In particular, it claims the cost of the service is likely to turn-off potential customers.’
    possible, likely, prospective, future, probable, budding, in the making
    View synonyms

noun

  • 1Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.

    ‘a young broadcaster with great potential’
    ‘the potentials of the technology were never wholly controllable’
    • ‘The first drew on evidence that selection led to a huge waste of national potential.’
    • ‘Few tracks offer a most searching examination of a thoroughbred's ability, and potential.’
    • ‘Following on from this, I think this story has excellent potential if developed cleverly.’
    • ‘Often the biggest barrier for women is a lack of confidence in their own skills and potential.’
    • ‘In the modern game, too often managers are chosen on potential rather than proven ability.’
    • ‘The merit acquired from this gift is used to trigger the forces of latent positive potential in oneself or others.’
    • ‘This will allow them to develop individual academic and sporting talent to full potential.’
    • ‘It is a tragedy in this case because the life lost was one with such future potential.’
    • ‘Unfulfilled potential is about as useful as a canal with no water in it.’
    • ‘He is a talented player, but has yet to develop his potential and prove his staying power.’
    • ‘Its success potential will rest heavily on how strictly its license terms are defined.’
    • ‘Any time that a hospital doctor devotes to computing does not lead to increased income potential.’
    • ‘It is for the society at large to harness the latent potential in the children and benefit out of that.’
    • ‘It is a compliment to his ability and obvious potential that his name has been so widely mentioned.’
    • ‘The only real way to compare potential is to give everyone the same chance to shine.’
    • ‘We have vast untapped potential in hydro power and in natural gas from the Arctic.’
    • ‘We also see tremendous potential in developing our client base in Harrogate and surrounding areas.’
    • ‘You could say that we can compare our capabilities and potential to that of an iceberg!’
    • ‘If this facility is not used to its potential, the future of the Club could be in jeopardy.’
    • ‘He was talented and hard-working and had such potential for success in life.’
    possibilities, potentiality, prospects
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1often potential for/to do something The possibility of something happening or of someone doing something in the future.
      ‘pesticides with the potential to cause cancer’
      ‘the crane operator's clear view reduces the potential for accidents’
      • ‘It was as a viable project with potential for economic regeneration and ecological improvements.’
      • ‘Inevitably the campaigners have now turned their sights to potential for suing drinks companies.’
      • ‘There is a ruined former railway cottage on the property with potential for further development.’
      • ‘They have potential for greatness, but they need to let go, let it happen.’
      • ‘While I am in favor of this technology, it possesses a hell of a lot of potential for abuse.’
      • ‘More to the point still, is this potential to anger particularly strong in the media?’
      • ‘It will spend the next few years developing the area's potential for exploration.’
      • ‘It struck them both there was potential to offer a service commercially.’
      • ‘The trials in February are to identify those riders who have potential to compete in the Paralympics.’
      • ‘He also said the county had huge potential to develop and expand in rural areas.’
      • ‘It has experienced strong growth in the past three years and has good potential for future growth.’
      • ‘They were of course unaware of the latent potential for economic growth just around the corner.’
      • ‘The site had previously been listed in the town's Local Plan as having potential for development.’
      • ‘The potential for future conflicts is horrific, and will remain so while capitalism survives.’
      • ‘Modern medicine raises the stakes as its power to do good is accompanied by increasing potential for harm.’
      • ‘There is so much potential for this to be one of Bradford's most attractive shopping thoroughfares.’
      • ‘Rural pubs have great potential to assume a business and community role.’
  • 2Physics
    The quantity determining the energy of mass in a gravitational field or of charge in an electric field.

    • ‘Electrical action potentials, osmotic perturbations or chemical signals may trigger these waves.’
    • ‘The normal conduction of action potentials is reliant upon sodium channels.’
    • ‘A problem with evoked potentials is that their amplitude is exceedingly small.’
    • ‘Various measurable bits in the universe have vastly different potentials to have a causal impact.’
    • ‘This is well established by studies on electro-osmosis and streaming potentials.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from late Latin potentialis, from potentia ‘power’, from potent- ‘being able’ (see potent). The noun dates from the early 19th century.

Pronunciation

potential

/pəˈten(t)SHəl//pəˈtɛn(t)ʃəl/