AskDefine | Define potent

Dictionary Definition

potent adj
1 having the power to influence or convince; "a cogent analysis of the problem"; "potent arguments" [syn: cogent, powerful]
2 having or wielding force or authority; "providing the ground soldier with increasingly potent weapons" [syn: strong]
3 having a strong physiological or chemical effect; "a potent toxin"; "potent liquor"; "a potent cup of tea" [syn: strong] [ant: impotent]
4 (of a male) able to copulate [syn: virile] [ant: impotent]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. possessing strength
  2. being effective in small quantities
  3. having a sharp or offensive taste
  4. In the context of "of a male": able to procreate




  1. potent, being effective in small quantities

Extensive Definition

In heraldry, vair is a "fur", a tincture which is simultaneously a two-coloured field treatment. It is found in a variety of colours, and appears in different arrangements, each with its own name.
It goes back, as does ermine, to a fur highly prized by the potentates of the Middle Ages: squirrel. The word vair is derived from the Middle English forms veir and vairé, meaning variegated fur (from the French vair, itself from the Latin varius, variegated).
The squirrel in question was apparently blue-grey on the back and white underneath, and was much used for the lining of cloaks. It was sewn together in alternating cup-shaped pieces of back and stomach fur, resulting in a pattern of grey-blue and grey-white which, when simplified in heraldic drawing and painting, became blue and white in alternating pieces. The species involved has never been accurately identified.
In the oldest records vair is represented by means of straight horizontal lines alternating with vertical wavy or nebuly lines (sometimes blazoned as vair ondé or vair ancien); this is seen in the lining of the cloak depicted on the tomb of Geoffrey V of Anjou.
A fur of other colours than argent and azure is referred to as vairy (or vairé) of <metal> and <colour>. Other tinctures may be used, described as vairy, counter-vairy, potenty, or counter-potenty of (say) Or and gules. In extremely rare circumstances there is vairy of four colours, but apparently vairy is always either of two or four colours.
The height of a row of vair is not strictly specified, but is typically about one-fifth that of the shield. Where there are more than six rows, the term menu-vair may be used. This is the origin of the English word "miniver", which was the general word for the fur lining used for robes of state.
Vair of fewer than four rows is sometimes called beffroi (a French word cognate to belfry), probably from the resemblance of a piece of vair to a church tower. The word derives from Old French berfroi and Old High German bergfrid, "The one who guards the peace". Originally, a beffroi was a wheeled tower which was used for scaling the walls of a besieged city, and which was a similar shape as the pieces of vair. Later, it became used for a watchtower, and then for any tower where a bell was hung.
Vair of two rows, called gros-vair, is occasionally seen.


Potent is a fur in heraldry. It is like vair, except using a T-shaped item instead of the vair bell. (The word "potent" means crutch; it is thought to derive from badly-drawn vair.) It is subject to all the subvarieties of vair, thus counter-potent and so on.


In Perrault's version of the fairytale Cinderella, it was thought for some time that the original intent was that the slippers were made of fur, due to a confusion of the French words verre (glass) and vair (fur). It is now contested as to whether the glass interpretation was the correct one; current studies suggest it was.


potent in German: Feh (Heraldik)
potent in Spanish: Vero (heráldica)
potent in Esperanto: Vajro
potent in French: Fourrure (héraldique)
potent in Italian: Vaiato
potent in Hungarian: Evet
potent in Dutch: Vair (heraldiek)
potent in Japanese: ヴェア (紋章学)
potent in Portuguese: Veiro
potent in Swedish: Gråverk

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

absolute, amorous, armipotent, ascendant, authoritarian, authoritative, authorized, autocratic, beefy, bouncing, broad-shouldered, carnal, charismatic, charming, clothed with authority, cogent, commanding, compelling, competent, concentrated, consequential, considerable, controlling, convincing, dominant, doughty, duly constituted, dynamic, effective, effectual, efficacious, eminent, empowered, enchanting, energetic, erogenic, erogenous, erotic, erotogenic, estimable, ex officio, fleshly, forceful, forcible, forcy, formidable, full-blooded, full-bodied, full-strength, gamic, governing, great, gutsy, gutty, hairychested, hale, hard, hard as nails, hardy, he-mannish, hearty, hefty, hegemonic, hegemonistic, heterosexual, high-potency, high-powered, high-pressure, high-tension, husky, imperative, important, impressive, in force, in power, influential, iron-hard, irresistible, leading, libidinal, lusty, macho, magnetic, mighty, mighty in battle, momentous, monocratic, nervy, nuptial, obstinate, official, operative, oversexed, personable, persuasive, powerful, preeminent, prepotent, prestigious, procreative, prominent, puissant, ranking, red-blooded, reputable, robust, robustious, rugged, ruling, senior, sensual, sex, sexed, sexlike, sexual, sexy, sound, stalwart, steely, stout, straight, strapping, striking, strong, strong as brandy, strong as strong, strong-willed, sturdy, suasive, substantial, superior, supreme, telling, totalitarian, ultramasculine, undersexed, valid, venereal, vigorous, virile, viripotent, vital, voluptuous, weighty, winning
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