Word: omnipotent

Pronunciation: ahm-NI-pə-d(ə)nt

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: having unlimited power; able to do anything

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Monica: Hey, Joey, what would you do if you were omnipotent?

Joey: Probably kill myself!

Monica: Excuse me?

Joey: Hey, if Little Joey’s dead, then I got no reason to live.

Ross: Joey, OM-nipotent.

Joey: …You are? Ross, I’m sorry! I had no idea! I thought it was like a theoretical question.

Friends (Season 1, Episode 4 – The One With George Stephanopoulos)

If you’ve been a fan of Friends since the beginning, you may remember this scene as one of the dirtier jokes in the series. While the gang is hanging out and talking about what they would do if they had unlimited power for a day (like ending world hunger or making themselves all-powerful forever), Monica directs the question at Joey, who just walked in. Joey proceeds to hilariously misunderstand the question (and Ross’s correction), not realizing that “omnipotent” and “impotent” are two very different words!

An “omnipotent” being is one who has unlimited power, particularly a deity. The word arose in Middle English and is originally French. This adjective comes from the Latin adjective omnipotens “all-powerful”, which comprises two roots: the adjective omnis “all” and the adjective potens “powerful”.

Though primarily an adjective, “omnipotent” can also be used as a noun to refer to God (as in “The Omnipotent”). The word doesn’t necessarily have to mean the literally unlimited power of a deity, as it can also refer to a person who has ultimate power and influence, such as an “omnipotent” sovereign. If you write scenes involving people who are capable of absolutely anything, you likely have some “omnipotent” characters in your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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