Po*ten"tial, n. 1.
Anything that may be possible; a possibility; potentially.
2. (Math.) 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
coördinates 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.
3. (Elec.) 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;
Po*ten"tial (?), a. [Cf. F.
potentiel. See Potency.] 1. Being
potent; endowed with energy adequate to a result; efficacious;
influential. [Obs.] "And hath in his effect a voice
2. Existing in possibility, not in
actuality. "A potential hero." Carlyle.
Potential existence means merely that the thing
may be at ome time; actual existence, that it now
is. Sir W. Hamilton.
Potential cautery. See under
Cautery. -- Potential energy.
(Mech.) See the Note under Energy. --
Potential mood, or mode
(Gram.), that form of the verb which is used to express
possibility, liberty, power, will, obligation, or necessity, by the
use of may, can, must, might,
could, would, or should; as, I may go; he