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[pou-er-fuh l] /ˈpaʊ ər fəl/
having or exerting great power or force.
physically strong, as a person:
a large, powerful athlete.
producing great physical effects, as a machine or a blow.
potent; efficacious:
a powerful drug.
having great effectiveness, as a speech, speaker, description, reason, etc.
having great power, authority, or influence; mighty:
a powerful nation.
Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. great in number or amount:
a powerful lot of money.
Origin of powerful
1350-1400; Middle English powarfull. See power, -ful
Related forms
powerfully, adverb
powerfulness, noun
overpowerful, adjective
overpowerfully, adverb
overpowerfulness, noun
quasi-powerful, adjective
quasi-powerfully, adverb
superpowerful, adjective
ultrapowerful, adjective
unpowerful, adjective
1. forceful, strong. Powerful, mighty, potent suggest great force or strength. Powerful suggests capability of exerting great force or overcoming strong resistance: a powerful machine like a bulldozer. Mighty, now chiefly rhetorical, implies uncommon or overwhelming strength of power: a mighty army. Potent implies great natural or inherent power: a potent influence. 5. influential, convincing, forcible, cogent, effective.
1. weak. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for powerful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was powerful mad with me, but he seen that I meant like I said, so Lou can keep her doll.

    'Smiles' Eliot H. Robinson
  • So powerful is genius, when it is invested with the glitter of affluence!

  • The draughts without, Frank, are a little too powerful for the draughts within, I fear.

    Ungava R.M. Ballantyne
  • "Yes," she said, suppressing her agitation with a powerful effort.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • "Rembas is the first of the strongholds, and is said to be the most powerful," he remarked.

    With the Dyaks of Borneo F. S. Brereton
British Dictionary definitions for powerful


having great power, force, potency, or effect
extremely effective or efficient in action: a powerful drug, a powerful lens
(dialect) large or great: a powerful amount of trouble
(dialect) extremely; very: he ran powerful fast
Derived Forms
powerfully, adverb
powerfulness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for powerful

c.1400, from power (n.) + -ful. Meaning "of great quality or number" is from 1811; colloquial sense of "exceedingly" (adv.) is from 1822. Related: Powerfully. Thornton ("American Glossary") notes powerful as "Much used by common people in the sense of very," along with monstrous and cites curious expressions such as devilish good, monstrous pretty (1799), dreadful polite, cruel pretty, abominable fine (1803), "or when a young lady admires a lap dog for being so vastly small and declares him prodigious handsome" (1799).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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powerful in Technology

A language combining functional programming and logic programming, using "angelic Powerdomains".

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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