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[pou-er-fuh l] /ˈpaʊ ər fəl/

having or exerting great or force.
physically strong, as a person:
a large, powerful athlete.
producing great physical effects, as a machine or a blow.
potent; efficacious:
a powerful drug.
having great effectiveness, as a speech, speaker, description, reason, etc.
having great , authority, or influence; mighty:
a powerful nation.
Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. great in number or amount:
a powerful lot of money.
having great power, force, potency, or effect
extremely effective or efficient in action: a powerful drug, a powerful lens
(dialect) large or great: a powerful amount of trouble
(dialect) extremely; very: he ran powerful fast

c.1400, from power (n.) + -ful. Meaning “of great quality or number” is from 1811; colloquial sense of “exceedingly” (adv.) is from 1822. Related: Powerfully. Thornton (“American Glossary”) notes powerful as “Much used by common people in the sense of very,” along with monstrous and cites curious expressions such as devilish good, monstrous pretty (1799), dreadful polite, cruel pretty, abominable fine (1803), “or when a young lady admires a lap dog for being so vastly small and declares him prodigious handsome” (1799).


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