The title is self-explanatory. Is there a word for the desire to have power, or should I just use the phrase?

  • 2
    The only word that I can think of is "Ambitious", but it may not mean it as strongly as craving power. There might also be "Power-Loving", but not sure if you can count it as one word.
    – Jaro
    Mar 10, 2017 at 9:19
  • 3
    Presumably this is not megalomania, "Obsession with the exercise of power" -- your person with this desire doesn't actually have power yet? A sample sentence, as required by the tag, would help greatly.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 10, 2017 at 10:22

6 Answers 6


You can describe someone as being power-hungry:

adjective: Having a strong desire for power.

‘the power-hungry and evil dictator’

Oxford dictionaries


You may use powermad. Here's an example from The Empowered Leader by C Miller:

I suspect that most powermad leaders never define themselves that way. Their erosion to the abusive use of power was so gradual that they may not have seen it.

and one from a biography of Theodore Roosevelt by L L Gould:

To a significant portion of his party, moreover, [Theodore] Roosevelt seemed a powermad radical lusting for a return to the highest office in the land.

  • 3
    I fear that this word shows the effects that power has once grasped and will not help me convey my idea. Mar 10, 2017 at 10:02
  • @KidusAmare You are, of course, the sole judge of your vocabulary, but I think your fear is groundless. Powermad is usually used to describe those grasping for power. I've added a quote. TR was President from 1901 to 1909, and there was an informal taboo (broken by his cousin in 1940) against a third term, a taboo which TR recognized by pledging not to seek a third term. He kept that promise in 1908, but broke it in 1912. So he wasn't seen as driven mad by power in 1908, but he was seen as such by seeking power in 1912.
    – deadrat
    Mar 10, 2017 at 10:30

If you want a noun, change Marcello's suggestion into ' megalomania'

  • You could suggest this as an edit to Marcello's (earlier) answer...
    – Dan
    Mar 25, 2021 at 14:24

Thirst for power is an idiomatic expression that is often used to convey the idea.


Thirst for power is also a book by Leon Trotsky

Hitler's Thirst For Power Essay Examples

From Invisible Power:

  • Pigott was described as "an iron-fisted decision-maker who cannot satisfy a thirst for power."The NCC chief reacted like a bemused parent, retorting that Ottawa is not a playground merely for the residents, ......
  • Does that mean there is no one word for it? Mar 10, 2017 at 9:17
  • @KidusAmare - I can't think of any with the same impact. Is it a problem of space?
    – user66974
    Mar 10, 2017 at 9:41
  • Not space but rather impact. I want a word that will have an enforcing feeling on first sight. Single words usually have more of this effect than phrases, especially ones used commonly. Mar 10, 2017 at 9:55
  • I agree, let's see if other users have other suggestions. As for impact, the expression suggested above is very strong.
    – user66974
    Mar 10, 2017 at 9:58
  • 3
    power-hungry . . .
    – Xanne
    Mar 10, 2017 at 9:58

David McLelland, an American psychologist, studied human needs and motivations. One human need he identified was the need for power, which he abbreviated nPow.

McClelland defines nPow as a desire for power either to control other people (for [one's] own goals) or to achieve higher goals (for the greater good), and describes people high in this trait as seeking neither recognition nor approval from others, but only agreement and compliance. Prsons with a high nPow score are likely to seek power over others.

So someone who desires power can be said to have a high nPow score.


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