Power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion are comparable when they mean the right or prerogative of determining, ruling, or governing or the exercise of that right or prerogative.
Power even in this specific sense never loses its fundamental implication of ability, but in this case it is a capacity for rule that may derive from rank, office, or even character or personality.
Power when used with reference to a definite person or body or office commonly connotes divisibility or strict limitation.
Authority is often used interchangeably with power; nevertheless, there can be an essential difference in meaning, since authority usually refers to power resident in or exercised by another than oneself; thus, one may have power, rather than authority, to determine one’s own actions, but a parent or a master or a ruler has the authority, rather than the power, to determine the actions of those under him; children are obedient to authority rather than to power .
Power and authority, especially in the plural, often refer to the persons who have or hold power or authority as defined. Powers, however, usually occurs in the phrase “the powers that be” and is either somewhat more comprehensive or less explicit in its reference than “the authorities, ” which often means the persons who have authority in the special instance to direct, to decide, or to punish.
Jurisdiction implies possession of legal or actual power to determine, to rule, or to govern within definitely assigned limits, and of the authority to so act in all matters coming within the sphere of that power.
Control stresses possession of the authority to restrain or curb and its effective exercise, or of actual power to regulate or keep responsive to one’s will not only persons but things; thus, a teacher who has lost control of his class has reached a point where the pupils no longer recognize his authority; a fire has gone beyond control when those who are fighting it have lost all power to check it.
Command implies such control as makes one the master of men, and such authority that obedience to one’s order or one’s will either inevitably follows or is inexorably enforced; thus, one speaks of the officer in command, rather than in control, of a regiment; a person has command of a situation when he completely dominates it or has all persons or things involved in it under control.
Command is also used in reference to things which one has mastered so thoroughly that one encounters no resistance or interference in using, recalling, or controlling them.
Sway tends to be slightly rhetorical because its use in this sense was originally figurative and the word still carries a hint of its original implications of swinging or sweeping through an arc or circle; hence, when a word is desired that means power but also connotes extent or scope and such added matters as preponderant influence, compelling authority, or potency, sway is the appropriate choice.
Dominion imputes sovereignty to the power in question or supremacy to the authority in question.