Legal Definition and Related Resources of Power

Meaning of Power

The right , ability, capacity or legal authority to do some act which a person cannot do without the power. Ability of a person to produce change in legal relation by doing or not doing a given legal act. Porter v household finance Corp. of Columbus, (D.C. Ohio) 385 F.Supp. 336. A power is to be distinguished from a trust in that a power is never imperative whereas a trust is always so. A power leaves the act to be done at the will of the party to whom it is given. A trust, on the other hand, is obligatory upon the conscience of the party entrusted. See Stanley v Colt, 5 Wall. (U.S.) 119,18 L.Ed. 502. However, where a power is coupled with a trust, it is said to be imperative. See Re Fair, 132 Cai. 523, 60 P. 442. Powers are also classified into naked powers and those coupled with interest . Naked power is where authority is given to a mere stranger to dispose of property in which the stranger has no estate . Said to be coupled with interest where it is given to one who has a present or future interest in the property subject of the power. See power of appointment .

Power Alternative Definition

The right, ability, or faculty of doing something. An authority by which one person enables another to do some act for him. 2 Lilly, Abr. 339. In a more technical sense, an authority vested in one person to dispose of an estate which is vested in another.
(1) Inherent powers are those which are enjoyed by the possessors of natural right, without having been received from another. Such are the powers of a people to establish a form of government, of a father to control his children. Some of these are regulated and restricted in their exercise by law, but are not technically considered in the law as powers.
(2) Derivative powers are those which are received from another. This division includes all the powers technically so called. They are of the following classes: a) Naked, being a right of authority disconnected from any interest of the donee in the subject matter. 3 Hill (N. Y.) 365. (b) Coupled with an interest, being a right or authority to do some act, together with an interest in the subject on which the power is to be exercised, Marshall, C. J., 8 Wheat. (U. S.) 203. A power of this class survives the person creating it, and, in case of an excess in execution, renders the act valid so far as the authority extends, leaving it void as to the remainder only. It includes powers of sale conferred on a mortgagee. Powers under the Statute of Uses. An authority enabling a person, through the medium of the statute of uses, to dispose of an interest in real property, vested either in himself or another person. 52 N. Hamp. 271. Methods of causing a use, with its accompanying estate, to spring up at the will of a given person. Williams, Real Prop. 245; 2 Washb. Real Prop. 300. The right to designate the person who is to take a use. Co. Litt. 271b, Butler’s note, 231, § 3, pi. 4. A right to limit a use. 4 Kent, Comm. 334. An authority to do some act in relation to lands, or the creation of estates therein, or of charges thereon, which the owner granting or reserving such power might himself lawfully perform. Rev. St. N. Y. Powers are divided generally into powers of appointment, being those which are to create new estates and powers of revocation, which are to divest or abridge an existing estate. But as every appointment must divest an existing estate, the distinction is of doubtful exactness. They are distinguished as:
(1) Appendant, being those which the donee is authorized to exercise out of the estate limited to him, and which depend for their validity upon the estate which is in him. 2 Washb. Real Prop. 304. A life estate limited to a man, with a power to grant leases in possession, is an example. Hardr. 416; 1 Caines, Cas. (N. Y.) 15; Sugd. (Pow. Ed. 1856) 107; Burton, Real Prop. § 179.
(2) Collateral, being those in which the donee has no estate in the land. 2 Washb. Real Prop. 305.
(3) General, being those by which the donee is at liberty to appoint whom he pleases.
(4) Special, being those in which the donee is restricted to an appointment to or among particular objects only. 2 Washb. Real Prop. 307.
(5) In gross, being those which give a donee, who has an estate in the land, authority to create such estates only as will not attach on the interest limited to him, or take effect out of his own interest. 2 Cow. (N. Y.) 236; White & T. Lead. Cas. 293; Watk. Conv. 260.
(6) Beneficial, when by its terms no person other than the donee has any interest in its execution. See Beneficial Power.
(7) In trust, when any person or class of persons is designated to receive the benefit. Designation of Parties. The person bestowing a power is called the donor; the person on whom it is bestowed is called the donee; the person who receives the estate by appointment of the donee is called the appointee. When referred to in connection with the appointee, the donee is sometimes called the appointor. By statute in New York, the term grantor of a power is used to denote the person by whom a power is created, and grantee of a power to denote the person in whom it is vested. 4 Rev. St. N. Y. § 135, p. 2451.

Synonyms of Power


  • auspices
  • authority
  • command
  • competence
  • contr:
  • controlment
  • dominance
  • domination
  • dominion
  • err nence
  • facility
  • force
  • hold
  • importance
  • influence
  • jurisdiction
  • mastership
  • mastery
  • potency
  • potestas
  • predominance
  • prepollence
  • prepollency
  • pressure
  • prestige
  • primacy
  • puissance
  • reign
  • rule
  • supremacy
  • supremeness
  • sway
  • vis
  • warrant
  • weight Associated Concepts: apparent power
  • appointing power
  • arbitrary power
  • capacity
  • concurrent power
  • contingent power
  • continuing power
  • delegated power
  • discretionary power
  • equitable power
  • exercise of power
  • extinguishment of power
  • extraordinary power
  • general power
  • implicit power
  • implied power
  • inchoate power
  • incidental power
  • inherent power
  • legislative power
  • limited power
  • mandatory power
  • necessary power
  • nonexclusive power
    of appointment
  • power coupled with an interest
  • power of alienation
  • power of appointment
  • power of attorney
  • power of disposition
  • power of sale
  • power of termination
  • release of power
  • retention of power
  • revocation of power
  • special power
  • taxing power
  • No man can do indirectly that which he cannot do directly
  • Sequi debetpotentia justitiam
  • non praecedere
  • Power ought to follow justice
  • not precede it
  • Potentia nonest nisi ad bonum
  • Power is not conferred but for the good
  • Fortior et potentior est dispositio legis quam hominis
  • The disposition of the law has greater force and stronger effect than that of man
  • Frustra est potentia quae nunquam venit in actum
  • A power is a vain one if it is never exercised
  • Potestas stride interpretatur
  • Power should be strictly interpreted
  • Delegatus non potest delegare
  • A representative cannot delegate his authority
  • not precede it
  • Potentia nonest nisi ad bonum
  • Power is not conferred but for the good
  • Fortior et potentior est dispositio legis quam hominis
  • The disposition of the law has greater force and stronger effect than that of man
  • Frustra est potentia quae nunquam venit in actum
  • A power is a vain one if it is never exercised
  • Potestas stride interpretatur
  • Power should be strictly interpreted
  • Delegatus non potest delegare
  • A representative cannot delegate his authority

Related Entries of Power in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Power in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Power in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Power in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Power in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Abdication, Abrogation, Absolute Estate, Abuse Of Discretion, Actual Cash Value, Agency Coupled With Interest, Ambit, Amnesty, Appointment, Power Of, Appropriation, Archbishop, Authority, Bank Paper, Bankable Paper, Bill Of Rights, Callable, Canterbury, Archbishop Of, Capable, Capacity, Catchpoll, Commerce, Commerce Clause, Composite Account Method, Compulsion, Consent, Constitution, Contraband, Contract Of Adhesion, Control, Court, Crown, Discretion, Discrimination, Dispose, Disqualify, Emancipation, Eminent Domain, Enable, Encroach, Equitable Assignment, Equivalent, Excise Tax, Fee Simple, Force, Hue And Cry, Immediate Cause, Imperfect Title, Independent Contractor, Inevitable Accident, Inferior Court, Influence, Inherent Power, Initiative, Inverse Condemnation, Irresistible Impulse, Jnsurrection, Judicial Function, Judicial Power, Judicial Review, Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Of The Person, Justiciability, Letters Of Administration, Liability, Limited Power Of Appointment, Magistrate, Mandamus, Manucaptio, Manumission, Master And Servant, Might, Monarchy, Monopoly, Nation, Obligation, Oligarchy, Oligopoly, Parallel Jurisdiction, Paramount, Pardon, Permanent Disability, Police Power, Political, Possession, Power Of Appointment, Precatory Trust, Probation, Procuration, Product, Protecting Power, Quasi Judicial, Queen’s Bench, , Rate Base, Ratification, Reciprocal Dealing, Recommend, Reference, Refusal, Regalia, Regulate, Revocation, Right, Right Of Entry, Second Distress, Security, Servant, Sheriff, Simony, Sovereign Immunity, Special Administrator, Special Taxes, , Subject, Succession, Tenancy At Sufferance, Superintendent, Trailer, Trespass, Tribute, Trust.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Power in the Dictionary Power in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Power
Legal Maxims Maxims are established principles that jurists use as interpretive tools, invoked more frequently in international law
Legal Answers (Q&A) A community-driven knowledge creation process, of enduring value to a broad audience
Related topics Power in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Power is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


Resource Description
Topic Map A group of names, occurrences and associations
Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies
https://legaldictionary.lawin.org/power/ The URI of Power (more about URIs)

Power in the Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims

The power, in a State, is necessarily limited to subjects within its jurisdiction. These are persons, property, and business, – whatever the form of taxation, whether as duties, imports, excises or licenses. The power may touch property in every shape: in its natural condition, in its manufactured form, in its transmutations. It may touch business in any of its infinite forms – in professions, commerce, manufactures, transportation. The amount is determined by the value, use, capacity, or productiveness. Unrestrained constitutionally, the power of the State as to the mode, form, and extent is unlimited, provided the subject is within her jurisdiction. Coe v. Errol, 116 U.S. 524 (1836), cases. [bold emphasis added].

Note: This legal definition of Power in the Dictionary of Law (English and American Jurisprudence) is from 1893.

Power in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of power.


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Power

(You may find power at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

c. 1300, “ability; ability to act or do; strength, vigor, might,” especially in battle; “efficacy; control, mastery, lordship, dominion; legal power or authority; authorization; military force, an army,” from Anglo-French pouair, Old French povoir, noun use of the infinitive, “to be able,” earlier podir (9c.), from Vulgar Latin *potere, from Latin potis “powerful” (see potent). Whatever some hypocritical ministers of government may say about it, power is the greatest of all pleasures. It seems to me that only love can beat it, and love is a happy illness that can’t be picked up as easily as a Ministry. [Stendhal “de l’Amour,” 1822] Meaning “one who has power” is late 14c. Meaning “specific ability or capacity” is from early 15c. Meaning “a state or nation with regard to international authority or influence” [OED
] is from 1726. Used for “a large number of” from 1660s. Meaning “energy available for work is from 1727. Sense of “electrical supply” is from 1896. Phrase the powers that be is from Romans xiii.1. As a statement wishing good luck, more power to (someone) is recorded from 1842. A power play in ice hockey so called by 1940. Power failure is from 1911; power steering from 1921.


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Police
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading

Definition of Power

The Canada social science dictionary [1] provides the following meaning of Power: The capacity of individuals or institutions to achieve goals even if opposed by others. Sociologists and political scientists, among others, have examined the way power is exercised through political parties and institutions of the state or the way that men exercise power within the family or the work place. Since the work of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), however, there has been an interest in the way that ‘knowledge’ itself is an instrument of power. Post-modernist such as Foucault adopt a position of ‘incredulity towards metanarratives’ so they no longer assume the validity of particular ways to look at the world or the truth or objectivity of specific perspectives (such as social science theory). Rather, Foucault draws attention to the ways in which the theories of the human sciences, including sociology and political science, are themselves the outcome of struggle between different competing perspectives in which one becomes temporarily victorious and then becomes a source of repression and constraint. This perspective has roots in the traditional concerns of the sociology of knowledge.

Power: Resources

Notes and References

  • Drislane, R., & Parkinson, G. (2016). (Concept of) Power. Online dictionary of the social sciences. Open University of Canada

Power in the National Security Context

A definition and brief description of Power in relation to national security is as follows:For many electronic devices this term denotes power required or consumed by operation. Often, however, the term power  denotes a specialized contextual or application-related meaning (e.g., with regard to a signal transponder it commonly refers to signal amplification power).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *