A Dictionary of the English Language
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Pówer. n.s. [pouvoir, Fr.]

  1. Command; authority; dominion; influence.

    If law, authority and pow'r deny not,
    It will go hard with poor Anthonio.

    No man could ever have a just power over the life of another, by right of property in land. Locke.

    Power is no blessing in itself, but when it is employ'd to protect the innocent. Swift.

  2. Influence; prevalence upon.

    This man had power with him, to draw him forth to his death. Bacon.

    Dejected! no, it never shall be said,
    That fate had power upon a Spartan soul;
    My mind on its own centre stands unmov'd
    And stable, as the fabrick of the world.

  3. Ability; force; reach.

    That which moveth God to work is goodness, and that which ordereth his work is wisdom, and that which perfecteth his work is power. Hooker.

            I have suffer'd in your woe;
    Nor shall be wanting ought within my pow'r,
    For your relief in my refreshing bow'r.

    You are still living to enjoy the blessings of all the good you have performed, and many prayers that your power of doing generous actions may be as extended as your will. Dry.

    It is not in the power of the most enlarged understanding, to invent one new simple idea in the mind, not taken in by the ways aforementioned. Locke.

    'Tis not in the power of want or slavery to make them miserable. Addison's Guardian.

    Though it be not in our power to make affliction no affliction; yet it is in our power to take off the edge of it, by a steady view of those divine joys prepared for us in another state. Atterbury's Sermons.

  4. Strength; motive force.

    Observing in ourselves, that we can at pleasure move several parts of our bodies, which were at rest; the effects also that natural bodies are able to produce in one another, occurring every moment to our senses, we both these ways get the idea of power. Locke.

  5. The moving force of an engine.

    by understanding the true difference betwixt the weight and the power, a man may add such a fitting supplement to the strength of the power, that it shall move any conceivable weight, though it should never so much exceed that force, which the power is naturally endowed with. Wilkins.

  6. Animal strength; natural strength.

    Care, not fear; or fear not for themselves altered something the countenances of the two lovers: but so as any man might perceive, was rather an assembling of powers than dismayedness of courage. Sidney, b. i.

    He died of great years, but of strong health and powers. Bacon's Henry VII.

  7. Faculty of the mind.

                            If ever
    You meet in some fresh cheek the power of fancy,
    Then you shall know the wounds invisible,
    That love's keen arrows make.

    I was in the thought, they were not fairies, and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprize of my powers drove the grossness of the foppery into a received belief. Shakesp.

    In our little world, this soul of ours
    Being only one, and to one body ty'd,
    Doth use, on divers objects, divers powers;
    And so are her effects diversify'd.

    Maintain the empire of the mind over the body, and keep the appetites of the one in due subjection to the reasoning powers of the other. Atterbury's Sermons.

    The design of this science is to rescue our reasoning powers from their unhappy slavery and darkness. Watts.

  8. Government; right of governing.

                            My labour
    Honest and lawful, to deserve my food
    Of those who have me in their civil power.

  9. Sovereign; potentate.

    'Tis surprising to consider with what heats these two powers have contested their title to the kingdom of Cyprus, that is in the hands of the Turk. Addison's Remarks on Italy.

  10. One invested with dominion.

    After the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Mat.

    The fables turn'd some men to flow'rs,
    And others did with brutish forms invest;
    And did of others make celestial pow'rs,
    Like angels, which still travel, yet still rest.

                If there's a pow'r above us,
    And that there is all nature cries aloud
    Through all her works, he must delight in virtue.

  11. Divinity.

                        Merciful powers!
    Restrain in me the curied thoughts, that nature
    Gives way to in repose.
    Shakespeare's Macbeth.

    cast down thyself, and only strive to raise
    The glory of thy maker's sacred name;
    Use all thy pow'rs, that blessed pow'r to praise,
    Which gives thee pow'r to be and use the same.

    With indignation, thus he broke
    His awful silence, and the pow'rs bespoke.

                        Tell me,
    What are the gods the better for this gold?
    The wretch that offers from his wealthy store
    These presents, bribes the pow'rs to give him more.

  12. Host; army; military force.

    He, to work him the more mischief, sent over his brother Edward with a power of Scots and Redshanks into Ireland, where they got footing. Spenser's State of Ireland.

                    Never such a power,
    For any foreign preparation,
    Was levied in the body of a land.
    Shakesp. K. John.

            Young Octavius and Mark Antony
    Come down upon us with a mighty power,
    Bending their expedition tow'rd Philippi.

                    Who leads his power?
    Under whose government come they along?

                    My heart, dear Harry,
    Threw many a northward look, to see his father
    bring up his pow'rs; but he did long in vain.

    Gazellus, upon the coming of the bassa, valiantly issued forth with all his power, and gave him battle. Knolles.

  13. A large quantity; a great number. In low language: as, a power of good things.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Shakespeare's As You Like It (40) · Atterbury, Francis (75) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Davies, John (45) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 (46) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Hooker, Richard (175) · Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (42) · Shakespeare's King John (43) · Knolles, Richard (44) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Macbeth (136) · The Bible - Matthew (21) · Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (83) · Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (95) · Milton, John (449) · Sidney, Philip (140) · Spenser, Edmund (254) · Swift, Jonathan (306) · Watts, Isaac (116) · Wilkins, John (32)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Power." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 11, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/power/.

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