Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Powerful, mighty, having authority.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Powerful; strong; mighty; forcible.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Powerful; mighty; strong; vigorous; forcible: as, a puissant prince or empire.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. powerful

Etymologies

From Anglo-Norman puissant, pussant, et al., Middle French puissant, poissant, present participle of pooir ("to be able"), ultimately from Latin posse ("be able"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "the purple patches," and unattracted, perhaps demagnetized, by a personality once fascinating and always "puissant," to appreciate the actual worth and magnitude of the poem.

    The Works of Lord Byron. Vol. 2

  • Was there nothing that puissant emperor could not do?

    June 21st, 2009

  • He was married to a puissant woman of endemic energy.

    Whiplash Marriage

  • Journeying forth to the big city in search of help, Flik mistakes the members of a broken-down flea circus for puissant warriors, brings them back home and presents them as the colony's saviors.

    Oy Story: 'Cars 2' Is a Dollar-Driven Edsel

  • But the Republican Party does believe in the United States remaining supine and dreaming that it is all-puissant and invincible.

    The Principles of the Republican Party: A Rare Unpublished Jack London Essay

  • As well as being a showcase for the fat knight, a contemporary lord of misrule, and a not-so-subtle piece of Tudor propaganda, it must also tell the story of the transformation of the Prince of Wales from prodigal son into the puissant monarch who will shortly fulfil every English ambition and declare waron France.

    Henry IV Parts 1 and 2

  • To the New Blood: [aka: puissant snots, kids, wood gatherers … .. fresh meat.]

    Why We Finally Stop Hunting

  • She took a deep breath and held it, raised her head, and gave him a puissant look.

    A Girl's Legs Stirring The Air

  • Hassop was at ease, relaxed, just a little beglamoured by the idea of intimacy with his puissant chief, just a little intoxicated by the knowledge that his film cannister contained Ben Reich's fate.

    Wild Dreams of Reality, 5

  • Here and there might have been discerned a frown at these revelations concerning a most puissant noble of the English Crown, but the overriding reaction was an untrammeled delight in the scandal.

    Sick Cycle Carousel

Comments

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  • If a boy with gold eyes and a metal staff asks if you are this, say "no."

    December 19, 2012

  • I suspect that erudite would have been an appropriate descriptor. Actually, high-falutin would have been one as well. Certainly, it was pretentious. I had a very intimate relationship with my thesaurus.

    September 26, 2009

  • Anything to do with Shakespeare is a perfect place to use it. Or, probably, nineteenth-century hymn lyrics.

    September 25, 2009

  • it's not esoteric, just awkward (which I suspect the teacher tried to find a high-falutin' synonym for and failed). I can't see a justified use of puissant in any paper after the 18th century.

    September 25, 2009

  • @ TheSarahEffect: Sorry to hear about the bad experience with your English teacher, who seems to feel it's her/his job to limit rather than expand your vocabulary. I wonder if your teacher knows what "esoteric" means; I certainly wouldn't use it to describe "puissant" – erudite maybe, but not "esoteric".

    I pronounce it more or less as you and Chained_bear do: two syllables: PWISS-ent (that "e" is a schwa). I think the French pronunciation would be: pü-i-SÃ, where the "ü" stands for that narrow, unrounded front-of-the-mouth "u", the "i" is as in machine, and the "ã" is a nasal "ah". But when you're speaking English, I strongly recommend using English pronunciations.

    September 24, 2009

  • Just saw this page, and I too pronounce it "pwee-sant," so ... does alguien mean "British" by "English pronunciation"?

    Signed, Too Lazy to Look It Up, OR Change Her Manner of Pronunciation Regardless

    September 24, 2009

  • How would you pronounce this in French? The first time I read it, it came to me as: "pwee-san(t)" and it has been difficult to uproot that pronunciation.

    September 24, 2009

  • My high school English teacher criticized me for using this word in an essay stating that it was too esoteric. Down with public education. Down with it, I say!

    September 24, 2009

  • on the other hand, impuissant sounds very much like its meaning.

    July 22, 2008

  • I definitely agree. And I am disgusted by the English pronunciation of this word. Pyoo-uh-suhnt? Ew.

    March 26, 2007

  • Means 'powerful' in French, right? Doesn't look or sound powerful to me. It looks like the least powerful word I can think of, except maybe 'pantuflas' (the Spanish word for 'slippers'). It looks more like 'piss-ant' than anything, and we all know those aren't powerful.

    March 26, 2007