Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics to the social sciences to indicate things that are in a state where they are able to change in ways ranging from the simple release of energy by objects to the realization of abilities in people. Examples include:
In linguistics, the potential mood.
The mathematical study of potentials is known as potential theory; it is the study of harmonic functions on manifolds. This mathematical formulation arises from the fact that, in physics, the scalar potential is irrotational, and thus has a vanishing Laplacian — the very definition of a harmonic function.
In physics, a potential may refer to the scalar potential or to the vector potential. In either case, it is a field defined in space, from which many important physical properties may be derived.
Leading examples are the gravitational potential and the electric potential, from which the motion of gravitating or electrically charged bodies may be obtained.
Specific forces have associated potentials, including the Coulomb potential, the van der Waals potential, the Lennard-Jones potential and the Yukawa potential.
In electrochemistry there are Galvani potential, Volta potential, electrode potential, standard electrode potential.
In thermodynamics potential refers to thermodynamic potential.
Currently unrealized ability (with the most common adposition being to)
“Even from a young age it was clear that she had the potential to become a great musician.”
The gravitational potential: the Newtonian potential or the gravitoelectric field.
The work (energy) required to move a reference particle from a reference location to a specified location in the presence of a force field, for example to bring a unit positive electric charge from an infinite distance to a specified point against an electric field.
A verbal construction or form stating something is possible or probable.
Able but not certain to happen; neither inevitable nor impossible.
“Rain tomorrow is possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.”
“It’s not just possible, it’s probable.”
Capable of being done or achieved; feasible.
“It’s possible for anyone to learn to pay the bagpipes.”
Being considered, e.g. for a position.
“Jones and Smith are both possible for the opening in sales.”
Apparently valid, likely, plausible.
A possible one.
A possible choice, notably someone being considered for a position.
“Jones is a possible for the new opening in sales.”
A particular event that may happen.