Po*ten"tial, n. 1. Anything that may be possible; a possibility; potentially. Bacon.

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; electro-motive force.

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 potential." Shak.

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 can write.