Printable Version
Pronunciation: pwi-sênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Literary) Powerful, influential, mighty, potent.

Notes: Today's is a word you should use if you feel that French has not had a puissant enough influence on English. English has plenty of words with the same meaning. Like most English and semi-English words, it comes with an adverb, puissantly, and an abstract noun, puissance.

In Play: One place you might use this word is in talking to royalty: "May I present to you His Excellency the Most Puissant Duke of Stoking-on-Furnice." Otherwise, you might meet it in the literary endeavors of others, so why not try it yourself as in, "The puissant magic of words lured Lex to alphaDictionary."

Word History: Today's word belongs to French, puissant "powerful" which was in Old French poissant "powerful", the present participle of pooir "to be able". The Anglo-French version of this verb, pouair, was the source of English power. Old French pooir "to be able" descended from earlier podir—akin to Latin potis "powerful"—via Vulgar (street) Latin potere "to be powerful". English potent was borrowed from Latin poten(t)s "powerful", the present participle of potere. English possible, too, was borrowed from Latin possibilis via French. This word originated in Latin posse "to be able". All these forms go back to the Proto-Indo-European form poti- "powerful, lord". We see cognates in Sanskrit patih "master, husband" and Persian pasha "master, king". (We should now thank Berta Jean Manna, from whose puissant vocabulary today's Good Word sprang.)

Dr. Goodword,

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