Power Quotes

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Do you know what power is? These power quotes will help you understand what it means to be and feel powerful.

As a physical definition, power is a description of energy that is transferred or acts on other objects. In more human terms, it involves authority, control, and sometimes force.

It’s difficult to talk about those with power and not mention those without it. We constantly hear sayings about “taking back our power,” and “speaking truth to power,” but what do they really mean?

Does power corrupt? Is knowledge power? You decide after reading our list of power quotes to learn the positive and negative aspects of being powerful in the world today.

Top 10 Power Quotes

Power is not sufficient evidence of truth.

Samuel Johnson

Power is the most persuasive rhetoric.

Friedrich von Schiller
Thomas Jefferson quote "Power is not alluring to pure minds"
“Power is not alluring to pure minds.” – Thomas Jefferson

Character is power.

Booker T. Washington

Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough to be trusted with unlimited power.

Charles Caleb Colton

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

Frederick Douglass
Jacob Bronowski quote "Power is the by-product of understanding"
“Power is the by-product of understanding.” – Jacob Bronowski

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.

Baltasar Gracian

The best people to have power are the ones who don’t want it.

Kit Harington

Quotes about Power

A simple search will show the definition of power depends on a field to give it context. Physicians, sociologists, or even your co-workers probably all define power differently based on their experiences.

These quotes about power offer different perspectives on what power is and isn’t so you can decide what it means to you.

Power is neither good nor evil. It just is. It’s what people do with power that matters.

C.J. Redwine

Silence is the ultimate weapon of power.

Charles de Gaulle

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.

Mahatma Gandhi

Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.

Michel Foucault

What do all powerful men want? More power.

The Oracle,
The Matrix Reloaded

Power never takes a back step – only in the face of more power.

Malcolm X

Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.

Gloria Steinem

Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true.

Honoré de Balzac
John Milton quote "Power ought to serve as a check to power"
“Power ought to serve as a check to power.” – John Milton

Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent.

Jonathan Swift

With great power there must also come great responsibility.

Stan Lee

The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.

Mahatma Gandhi

Power? It’s like a Dead Sea fruit. When you achieve it, there is nothing there.

Harold MacMillan

And power without compassion is the worst kind of evil there is.

E.J. Patten

The greatest power is often simple patience.

E. Joseph Cossman

Power lacks moral or principles. It only has interests.

Horacio Castellanos Moya

A word after a word after a word is power.

Margaret Atwood

Power has always been one of those words that everybody uses without necessarily being able to define satisfactorily.

Dennis Hume Wrong,
The Modern Condition

Nobody gives you power, boy. Real power is something you TAKE.

Jock Ewing, Dallas
John Adams quote "Power must never be trusted without a check"
“Power must never be trusted without a check.” – John Adams

Power is when you have every justification to kill someone, and then you don’t.

Oskar Shindler

I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Henry Kissinger

Selfishness is weakness. But loving and caring for others is a position of power beyond anything we can possibly imagine.

Joel Osteen

Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.

Alice Walker

Power may be defined as the production of intended effects. It is thus a quantitative concept: given two men with similar desires, if one achieves all the desires that the other achieves, and also others, he has more power than the other.

Bertrand Russell

We live in a world which respects power above all things. Power, intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom. Unwisely directed, it can be a dreadful, destructive force.

Mary McLeod Bethune

Do the thing and you will have the power.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.

Blaise Pascal

Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.

Napoleon Bonaparte
JG Holland quote "Calmness is the cradle of power"
“Calmness is the cradle of power.” – J.G. Holland

In order to obtain and hold power, a man must love it.

Leo Tolstoy

The most important thing about power is to make sure you don’t have to use it.

Edwin Land

He chose money over power. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.

Frank Underwood,
House of Cards

Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.

Peter Drucker

The depositary of power is always unpopular.

Benjamin Disraeli

Knowledge Is Power Quotes

Knowledge is power only when put to use – and then only when the use made of it is constructive.

David J. Schwartz,
The Magic of Thinking Big

Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.

Napoleon Hill

Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.

Bruce Lee

The desire of excessive power caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge caused men to fall.

Francis Bacon

The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.

Albert Einstein

Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.

Eric Hoffer
"Knowledge is the most democratic source of power"
“Knowledge is the most democratic source of power.” – Alvin Toffler

It is a mistake, that a lust for power is the mark of a great mind; for even the weakest have been captivated by it; and for minds of the highest order, it has no charms.

Charles Caleb Colton

I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.

Thomas Jefferson

The wise become as the unwise in the enchanted chambers of Power, whose lamps make every face the same colour.

Walter Savage Landor

Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up. Only one thing matters, one thing; to be able to dare!

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.

Ossie Davis

If knowledge is power – then a god… am… I.

Jim Carrey, Batman Forever

Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind.

Ayn Rand

The pursuit of knowledge is, I think, mainly actuated by love of power.

Edmund Burke

Power and Control

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak.

John Adams

Power consists in one’s capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.

Woodrow Wilson

The power to do good is also the power to do harm; those who control the power today may not tomorrow; and, more important, what one man regards as good, another may regard as harm.

Milton Friedman

Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others.

Beth Revis,
Across the Universe
George Orwell quote "The object of power is power"
“The object of power is power.” – George Orwell

Money is power, and in that government which pays all the public officers of the states will all political power be substantially concentrated.

Andrew Jackson

The less power a man has, the more he likes to use it.

J. Petit-Senn

Power really is a test of character. In the hands of a person of integrity, it is of tremendous benefit; in the hands of a tyrant, it causes terrible destruction.

John C. Maxwell

All, or the greatest part of men that have aspired to riches or power, have attained thereunto either by force or fraud, and what they have by craft or cruelty gained, to cover the foulness of their fact, they call purchase, as a name more honest. Howsoever, he that for want of will or wit useth not those means, must rest in servitude and poverty.

Walter Raleigh

Power doesn’t always roar…The art of exerting power is an art used in doses – the more hidden it is the more effective.

Ziad K. Abdelnour

We cannot live by power, and a culture that seeks to live by it becomes brutal and sterile. But we can die without it.

Max Lerner

Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes whate’er it touches; and obedience, bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth, makes slaves of men, and of the human frame a mechanized automaton.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

There is power over human beings and power over dead matter or non-human forms of life.

Bertrand Russell

Love of power, in its widest sense, is the desire to be able to produce intended effects upon the outer world, whether human or non-human.

Bertrand Russell

Power has only one duty – to secure the social welfare of the People.

Benjamin Disraeli

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.

George Orwell,

The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use; of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.

John F. Kennedy
"Whoever is new to power is always harsh"
“Whoever is new to power is always harsh.” – Aeschylus

Power, when invested in the hands of knaves or fools, generally is the source of tyranny.

Charlotte Charke

It doesn’t matter how strong your opinions are. If you don’t use your power for positive change, you are, indeed, part of the problem.

Coretta Scott King

No power can be maintained when it is only represented by hypocrites.

Friedrich Nietzsche

You see what power is holding someone else’s fear in your hand and showing it to them.

Amy Tan,
The Kitchen God’s Wife

The one thing a creator can bring to the table when everybody else has all the money and power is centeredness and the ability to walk away. Never sit at a table you can’t walk away from.

Joss Whedon

In a democratic nation, power must be linked with responsibility, and obliged to defend and justify itself within the framework of the general good.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Extensive powers not exercised as far as was necessary have, I believe, scarcely ever failed to ruin the possessor.

George Washington

The need to exert power, when thwarted in the open fields of life, is the more likely to assert itself in trifles.

Charles Horton Cooley

Power Corrupts Quotes

Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power.

William Gaddis

Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.

George Bernard Shaw

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton

Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.

Admiral Chester W. Nimmitz
"The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse"
“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.” – Edmund Burke

Power intoxicates men. When a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated by power, he seldom recovers.

James F. Byrnes

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.

David Brin

Power is neither good nor evil, but its user makes it so.

Erin Hunter

Power corrupts, but lack of power corrupts absolutely.

Adlai Stevenson

Occupants of public offices love power and are prone to abuse it.

George Washington

People with power always take advantage of those without power.

Christopher Pike

Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect any who seek it.

Frank Herbert

Authority, power, and wealth do not change a man; they only reveal him

Ali ibn Abi Talib

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best.

Edward Abbey

Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.

John Quincy Adams
William Pitt quote "Unlimited power corrupts the possessor"
“Unlimited power corrupts the possessor.” – William Pitt

Abuse of power isn’t limited to bad guys in other nations. It happens in our own country if we’re not vigilant.

Clint Eastwood

Power gradually extirpates from the mind every humane and gentle virtue.

Edmund Burke

I often say of George Washington that he was one of the few in the whole history of the world who was not carried away by power.

Robert Frost

Most universities are no longer temples of knowledge, but of power, and true moderns worship there.

Dean Koontz

Power is more safely retained by cautious than by severe councils.


Power is a dangerous thing. Be careful that you don’t abuse it or let it make a tyrant of you.

Louisa May Alcott

There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.

William Henry Harrison

Power is dangerous. It corrupts the best and attracts the worst. Power is only given to those who are prepared to lower themselves to pick it up.

Ragnar Lothbrok

Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.

Marian Wright Edelman

Personal Power

The first step to having power is the realization that it comes from within. Do you have power over yourself? Over your thoughts?

Personal power is more than discipline, confidence, or determination. These qualities stem from it, but personal power also comes from the actions, choices, and ideas that lead to strong qualities.

Many people have confidence, but lack the power to change or the power to forgive. Personal power allows us to feel powerful in ourselves and project that into the world.

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.


Personal power is more of an attitude or state of mind than an attempt to maneuver or control others.


He hath no power that hath not power to use.

Philip James Bailey
Buckminster Fuller quote "Our power is in our ability to decide"
“Our power is in our ability to decide.” – Buckminster Fuller

Wherever there is power there is age.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The great secret of power is never to will to do more than you can accomplish.

Henrik Ibsen

The measure of a man is what he does with power.


The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.

Seneca The Younger

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.

Lao Tzu

Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.

Elie Wiesel

The greatness of the man’s power is the measure of his surrender.

William Booth

What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.


You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

Marcus Aurelius

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
"He is the most powerful who has power over himself"
“He is the most powerful who has power over himself.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.

Mary Shelley

The only power you have on this planet is the power of your decisions.

Paolo Coelho

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

Margaret Thatcher

There is a source of power in each of us that we don’t realize until we take responsibility.

Diane Nash

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

W.H. Murray

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.


Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control; these three alone lead one to sovereign power.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself.

Winston Churchill

Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs.

Andrew Carnegie

Power is strength and the ability to see yourself through your own eyes and not through the eyes of another. It is being able to place a cicle of power at your own feet and not take power from someone else’s circle.

Lynn Andrews

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.

William Wordsworth

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.

Robert Anthony

Power is nothing unless you can turn it into influence.

Condoleezza Rice

We hope this collection of power quotes gave you a better idea of what power means, and what it means for you.

Should you be fortunate enough to be in a powerful position in society, your career, or even simply your household – remember the lessons these words on power contain. Don’t let power corrupt you or go to your head.

Instead, realize positions of power are a chance to do good and bring good to others. That’s what we think true power is.

Photo of author

Quincy Seale

Quincy is KIM's lead editor and content writer, and has collected and shared inspiring quotes and stories since 2005. Quincy holds an MBA from the University of Dundee and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and lives in San Antonio with his wife Natalie, son Alex, and his dog Oban.