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Potential (n.) In the theory of gravitation, or of other forces acting in space, a function of the rectangular coordinates which determine the position of a point, such that its differential coefficients with respect to the coordinates are equal to the components of the force at the point considered; -- also called potential function, or force function. It is called also Newtonian potential when the force is directed to a fixed center and is inversely as the square of the distance from the center.