POTEN'TIAL, adjective [Latin potentialis.] Having power to impress on us the ideas of certain qualities, though the qualities are not inherent in the thing; as potential heat or cold.
1. Existing in possibility, not in act.
This potential and imaginary materia prima, cannot exist without form.
2. Efficacious; powerful. [Not in use.]
Potential cautery, in medicine, is the consuming or reducing to an eschar, any part of the body by a caustic alkaline or metallic salt, etc. instead of a red hot iron, the use of which is called actual cautery.
Potential mode, in grammar, is that form of the verb which is used to express the power, possibility, liberty or necessity of an action or of being; as, I may go; he can write. This, in English, is not strictly a distinct mode, but the indicative or declarative mode, affirming the power to act, instead of the act itself. I may go or can go, are equivalent to, I have power to go.
POTEN'TIAL, noun Any thing that may be possible.