Skip to main content

Power vs Force vs Energy vs Strength vs Might vs Puissance

Powerforceenergystrengthmightpuissance mean the ability to exert effort for a purpose.

Power is the most general of these terms and denotes an ability to act or be acted upon, to effect something, or to affect or be affected by something.

Force (see also FORCE 2 ) implies the exhibition or the exercise of power; the term usually carries with it a suggestion of actually overcoming resistance (as by setting a thing in motion or accelerating its motion or driving a person or thing in the desired direction); thus, one having the power to do something exerts force only when he actually does it.

Therefore force is often applied to a person or thing that exerts its power with marked efficacy or efficiency.

Energy in general use and especially as applied to persons implies stored-up power releasing itself in work or craving such release.

Strength applies to the power that resides in a person or thing as a result of qualities or properties that enable him or it to exert force or to manifest energy or to resist pressure, strain, stress, or attack. Physically strength implies soundness (as of health or of construction or design) while mentally and morally it may imply capacity for endurance or resolution or intrepidity.

When applied to military forces it usually implies power manifest in such things as numbers, equipment, and resources.

Might and puissance are rather rhetorical or poetic words meaning operative or effective power or force.

Might often suggests great or superhuman power; it is therefore appropriate when the reference is to supernatural beings or supranatural forces or to human power that is so strong that it cannot be gainsaid.

Puissance is often indistinguishable from might, but it can also connote an impressive display of power.