1. Capable of being but not yet in existence; latent: a potential problem.
2. Having possibility, capability, or power.
3. Grammar Of, relating to, or being a verbal construction with auxiliaries such as may or can; for example, it may snow.
1. The inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being.
2. Something possessing the capacity for growth or development.
3. Grammar A potential verb form.
4. Physics The work required to move a unit of positive charge, a magnetic pole, or an amount of mass from a reference point to a designated point in a static electric, magnetic, or gravitational field; potential energy.
[Middle English potencial, from Old French potenciel, from Late Latin potentilis, powerful, from Latin potentia, power, from potns, potent-, present participle of posse, to be able; see potent.]
potential /ptnl/ n.1 [C] the possibility of being or doing s.t., the unrealized capability for s.t.: That business has the potential to be very profitable next year.2 [U] talent, ability: She has the potential to be a top figure skater.3 [U] a measure of electrical capacity adj. possible, capable of s.t.: I think the governor is a potential candidate for president.-adv.potentially.
Thesaurus: potential 1 and 2 the promise, the makings.