n. pl. ca·pac·i·ties
a. The ability to receive, hold, or absorb something: the storage capacity of a car's trunk.
b. The maximum amount that can be contained: a bin filled to capacity.
2. The power to learn or retain knowledge; mental ability.
a. The ability to do, make, or accomplish something; capability: a comedian's capacity for making people laugh.
b. The maximum or optimum amount that can be produced: factories operating below capacity.
4. The quality of being suitable for or receptive to specified treatment: the capacity of elastic to be stretched.
5. The position in which one functions; role: in your capacity as sales manager.
6. Legal qualification or authority: the capacity to make an arrest.
7. Electricity Capacitance.
Filling a space with the most it can hold: a capacity crowd at the concert.
[Middle English capacite, from Old French, from Latin capācitās, from capāx, capāc-, spacious; see CAPACIOUS.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.