potential-n; 3 Senses

Sense Number 1: a possible state, a future possibility

Commentary: POTENTIAL[+event][+possible]
NOTE: refers to a possible state of affairs that could happen in the future
NOTE: occurs in phrases 'potential for X' where X is a possible, observable future event

A stop sign could reduce the potential for accidents at that busy street corner.
The director has been trying to identify and address all potential problems before the planetary launch.
Betty argued that there is some potential for peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The analysts now consider his potential for winning the next election to be low.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 1, 2

Sense Number 2: a latent capability or talent

Commentary: POTENTIAL[+quality][+capability][+latent]
NOTE: does not refer to a possible future -event- (Sense 1) , but a development of inherent ability, quality.
NOTE: occurs in phrases 'X's potential' where X possesses an inherent quality

The review says that the 24-year-old Australian shows great potential as a major dramatic soprano.
Unfortunately, the potentials of the technology were never wholly realized.
He saw the young entrepreneur's potential where others only saw failure.

WordNet 0.0 Sense Numbers: 1

Sense Number 3: required work to move a particle in a gravitational or electric field

Commentary: POTENTIAL[+quantity][+function][+work][+field][+electrical/+gravitational]

There is an electric potential at every point in space.
Electric potential is work per unit charge.
A book lying on a table has greater gravitational potential than a book lying on the floor.

WordNet 0.0 Sense Numbers: 2