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capacity Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun capability to perform or produce
    • among his gifts is his capacity for true altruism
    • limited runway capacity
    • a great capacity for growth
  2. noun the susceptibility of something to a particular treatment
    • the capability of a metal to be fused
  3. noun the amount that can be contained
    • the gas tank has a capacity of 12 gallons
  4. noun the maximum production possible
    • the plant is working at 80 per cent capacity
  5. noun a specified function
    • he was employed in the capacity of director
    • he should be retained in his present capacity at a higher salary
  6. noun (computer science) the amount of information (in bytes) that can be stored on a disk drive
    • the capacity of a hard disk drive is usually expressed in megabytes
  7. noun an electrical phenomenon whereby an electric charge is stored
    capacitance; electrical capacity.
  8. noun the power to learn or retain knowledge; in law, the ability to understand the facts and significance of your behavior
    mental ability.
  9. noun tolerance for alcohol
    • he had drunk beyond his capacity

Ca*pac"i*ty noun
L. capacitus, fr. capax, capacis; fr. F. capacité. See Capacious.
plural Capacities
  1. The power of receiving or containing; extent of room or space; passive power; -- used in reference to physical things.
    Had our great palace the capacity To camp this host, we all would sup together. Shak.
    The capacity of the exhausted cylinder. Boyle.
  2. The power of receiving and holding ideas, knowledge, etc.; the comprehensiveness of the mind; the receptive faculty; capability of undestanding or feeling.
    Capacity is now properly limited to these [the mere passive operations of the mind]; its primary signification, which is literally room for, as well as its employment, favars this; although it can not be dented that there are examples of its usage in an active sense. Sir W. Hamilton.
  3. Ability; power pertaining to, or resulting from, the possession of strength, wealth, or talent; possibility of being or of doing.
    The capacity of blessing the people. Alex. Hamilton.
    A cause with such capacities endued. Blackmore.
  4. Outward condition or circumstances; occupation; profession; character; position; as, to work in the capacity of a mason or a carpenter.
  5. (Law) Legal or noral qualification, as of age, residence, character, etc., necessary for certain purposes, as for holding office, for marrying, for making contracts, will, etc.; legal power or right; competency. Syn. -- Ability; faculty; talent; capability; skill; efficiency; cleverness. See Ability.

Webster 1913