American English

Definition of power noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[uncountable] the ability to control people or things power (over somebody/something) The aim is to give people more power over their own lives. power (to do something) He has the power to make things very unpleasant for us. to have someone in your power (= to be able to do what you like with someone)
  2. 2[uncountable] political control of a country or an area to take/seize/lose power The present regime has been in power for two years. The Republicans came to power in the last election. They are hoping to return to power. a power struggle between rival factions within the party Topic CollocationsPoliticspower create/form/be the leader of a political party gain/take/win/lose/regain control of Congress start/spark/lead/be on the brink of a revolution be engaged/locked in an internal power struggle lead/form a rival/breakaway faction seize/take control of power/the government bring down/overthrow/topple the government/president/regime abolish/overthrow/restore the monarchy establish/install a military dictatorship/a stable government be forced/removed/driven from office/power resign/step down as party leader/president/prime minister/governor/a senator enter/retire from/return to political lifepolitical debate spark/provoke a heated/hot/intense/lively debate engage in/participate in/contribute to (the) political/public debate (on/over something) get involved in/feel excluded from the political process launch/start/lead/spearhead a campaign/movement join/be linked with the peace/anti-war/feminist/civil rights movement criticize/speak out against/challenge/support the government lobby/put pressure on the government (to do something) come under fire/pressure from opposition partiespolicy call for/demand/propose/push for/advocate democratic/political/land reform(s) formulate/implement domestic economic policy change/influence/shape/have an impact on government/economic/public policy be consistent with/be in line with/go against/be opposed to government policy reform/restructure/modernize the tax system privatize/improve/deliver/make cuts in public services invest (heavily) in/spend something on schools/education/public services/(the) infrastructure nationalize the banks/the oil industry promise/propose/deliver/give ($80 billion in/significant/substantial/massive) tax cuts a/the budget is approved/passed by Congress/the House/the Senatemaking laws have a majority in/have seats in Congress/the House/the Senate propose/sponsor a bill/legislation/a resolution/an amendment introduce/bring in/draw up/draft/adopt/pass a bill/a law/a resolution/an amendment/legislation/measures amend/repeal an act/a law/legislation veto/vote against/oppose a bill/legislation/a measure/a proposal/a resolution get/require/be decided by a majority vote ⇨ more collocations at economy, vote see also balance of power
  3. ability
  4. 3[uncountable] (in people) the ability or opportunity to do something It is not within my power (= I am unable or not in a position) to help you. I will do everything in my power to help you.
  5. 4[uncountable] (also powers [plural]) a particular ability of the body or mind He had lost the power of speech. The drug may affect your powers of concentration. He had to use all his powers of persuasion.
  6. 5powers [plural] all the abilities of a person's body or mind At 26, he is at the height of his powers and ranked fourth in the world.
  7. authority
  8. 6[uncountable, countable, usually plural] the right or authority of a person or group to do something power (to do something) The Secretary of State has the power to approve the proposals. The powers of the police must be clearly defined. power (of something) The President has the power of veto over all new legislation. Police in riot gear used their powers under the Public Order Act to move on 300 protesters. see also power of attorney
  9. country
  10. 7[countable] a country with a lot of influence in world affairs, or with great military strength world powers an allied/enemy power see also superpower
  11. influence
  12. 8[uncountable] (in compounds) strength or influence in a particular area of activity economic power air/sea power (= military strength in the air/at sea) purchasing power Their efforts to exercise collective bargaining power against multinational companies have failed.
  13. 9[uncountable] the influence of a particular thing or group within society the power of the media black power
  14. energy
  15. 10[uncountable] the strength or energy contained in something The ship was helpless against the power of the storm. It was a performance of great power. They were impressed by the power of her arguments. see also firepower, staying power
  16. 11[uncountable] physical strength used in action; physical strength that someone possesses and might use He hit the ball with as much power as he could. the sheer physical power of the man
  17. 12[uncountable] energy that can be collected and used to operate a machine, to make electricity, etc. nuclear/wind/solar power engine power see also horsepower
  18. electricity
  19. 13[uncountable] the public supply of electricity They switched off the power. a power failure
  20. mathematics
  21. 14[countable, usually singular] the number of times that an amount is to be multiplied by itself 4 to the third power/to the power of 3 is 43 (= 4 × 4 × 4 = 64).
  22. of lens
  23. 15[uncountable] the amount by which a lens can make objects appear larger the power of a microscope/telescope
  24. good/evil spirit
  25. 16[countable] a good or evil spirit that controls the lives of others the powers of darkness (= the forces of evil) She believed in the existence of a benevolent power.
  26. Idioms
    the corridors of power (sometimes humorous)
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    the higher levels of government, where important decisions are made
    the (real) power behind the throne
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    the person who really controls an organization, a country, etc. in contrast to the person who is legally in charge The president's wife was suspected of being the real power behind the throne.
    the powers that be (often ironic)
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    the people who control an organization, a country, etc. The powers that be are still trying to decide what should be done.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: power