Potential energy

Man jumping and leaving light streaks
Stanislaw Pytel/ Stone/ getty Images

Definition: Potential energy, or stored energy, is the ability of a system to do work due to its position or internal structure. For example, gravitational potential energy is a stored energy determined by an object's position in a gravitational field while elastic potential energy is the energy stored in a spring.

As a form of energy, the SI units for potential energy are the joule (J) or newton-meter (N*m).

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Jones, Andrew Zimmerman. "Potential energy." ThoughtCo, Feb. 2, 2016, thoughtco.com/potential-energy-2699000. Jones, Andrew Zimmerman. (2016, February 2). Potential energy. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/potential-energy-2699000 Jones, Andrew Zimmerman. "Potential energy." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/potential-energy-2699000 (accessed October 23, 2017).