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Semantic Superpower

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It's a matter of perspective.
The Dragonborn: So the Key unlocks any door?
Karliah: Well, yes, but the Key isn't only restricted to physical barriers. All of us possess untapped abilities; the potential to wield great power securely sealed within our minds. Once you realize the Key can access these traits, the potential becomes limitless.

A power that is defined solely by wording, and thus capable of a great deal of stretching what it is capable of. Can be used to justify Heart Is an Awesome Power. Done poorly, it comes across as an Ass Pull unless it's obviously being Played for Laughs.

In many cases, this is an example of a weapon or power that overtly tests the creativity of the wielder and their ability to think outside the box. Often, when villains get ahold of the device, they fail at using it, only to be scolded by the hero that their flaw is that they lack the imagination and creativity to make any real use of the item. A creative villain with a power like this, on the other hand, is one to be very much feared.

See also When All You Have Is a Hammer…, Imagination-Based Superpower, and Swiss-Army Superpower. Compare/contrast the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power. See also Literal Genie. Not to be confused with superpowers that actually consist of using speech or specific words.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aphorism is literally this. All the powers of the characters are based on a single kanji. Someone with the character for "flame" can produce flames, for example. It's even possible to change your power by interpreting that character differently.
  • Nero from Black Clover. Her Sealing Magic first seemed to only seal objects, unlocking and locking them. However, after working with Lumiere and having her magic affected by Forbidden Magic, she can use it to seal magic into tools, enemies in a cubical prison, damage, and wounds. She even changes between her anti-bird and human forms by sealing and unsealing herself.
  • Bleach:
  • Akutagawa Ryuunosuke in Bungo Stray Dogs has an Ability that's strictly worded as 'the power to control clothing'. This may seem like What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?, but it can be deadly. Think about making the fabric as sharp as a blade, or creating an omnivorous creature to destroy everything in your path. Or, more obviously, to shield yourself or to propel yourself into the air by rooting your now rock-solid clothes. This power is so dangerous that people are specifically told to stay away from him.
  • In Castle Town Dandelion, Aoi's Royalty Superpower Absolute Order relies on how she phrases her speech to work. Notice that she politely asks questions to make requests rather than simply telling people to do things.
  • Code Geass introduces one late in the series: earlier, Lelouch used his Geass on Suzaku to compel him to "live", and as a result, Suzaku becomes compelled to prioritize his survival above all else when placed into dangerous situations. By the time Lelouch makes his grab for power with Suzaku as his personal Dragon, Suzaku has learned to manipulate the command given to him by Lelouch's Geass to fight even more fiercely, his drive to "live" giving him a distinct edge over many of his opponents. In one prominent example, his Geass command to "live" overpowers a rival's Geass ability to foresee the immediate future.
  • In EDENS ZERO, the Ether Gear Satan's Gravity initially appears to just have the standard powers you might expect of this ability. However, it's later revealed that its proper power is the ability to manipulate "true" gravity, allowing its user to apply gravity's concepts to figurative or conceptual things. For example, Xenolith demonstrates to Shiki the ability to "lighten" one's pain, acting as a substitute to Healing Hands. It can also be used to make things "fall" into the user, such as other's memories (serving as a form of Telepathy), feelings (making one The Empath), or even powers (becoming a Power Parasite). Ziggy is even able to use true gravity to destroy a set of Nigh-Invulnerable relics that came from Mother, stating that since they're made of matter, it doesn't matter what "special" properties they might have because nothing can ultimately overcome gravity.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Golden Wind:
      • Gold Experience Requiem can return anything to zero. Its more straightforward use is to return attacks made against it to zero, basically applying a Cosmic Retcon to anything that'd harm it. It's also used to set an enemy's death to "zero". Since he can no longer die, he gets caught in a cycle where he constantly "dies", then wakes back up a few moments before "dying" again. The character profile suggests that this power can expand to nearly anything, such as a person's motivation.
      • Silver Chariot Requiem has the ability to "switch people's souls". At first, this manifests as a "Freaky Friday" Flip, but it is soon revealed that it's started to "switch" people into Eldritch Abominations, without them even noticing.
    • Stone Ocean:
      • After merging his Stand, Whitesnake, with the Green Baby, Pucci's powers gain the motif of the ability to manipulate gravity: C-MOON can reverse gravity, but also has the ability to turn things inside out by inverting their center of gravity. However, since gravity in the literal and metaphorical senses is a major theme of Stone Ocean, the ability is also implied to give Pucci Plot Armor.
      • Weather Report (whose Stand has the same name as he does) has the power of Weather Manipulation. This includes straightforward applications such as attacking with wind and lightning, but also extends to causing a Rain of Something Unusual; at one point, he makes it rain frogs... poison-dart frogs capable of killing a person with a single touch, to be exact. And that's not even the weirdest application of his power; that honor goes to the time when he created rainbows... which are encoded with subliminal messages that hypnotize people into believing they're snails, almost causing an apocalyptic scenario.
    • JoJolion:
      • The Stand that Josuke uses, Soft & Wet, has the power to "steal" anything from something, which boils down to removing a certain property from something. He has already used it to remove friction from a floor and the "click" sound from a light switch.
      • Yasuho Hirose, with the Stand of Paisley Park, from the same part. It possesses the power of "guidance", which has been used to organize internet searches and as a GPS... or to give others a presentiment to push them exactly where they should be.
      • Kei Nijimura has her Born This Way. It activates every time her chosen target opens something (or if Kei opens something and it comes into contact with the target), including but not restricted to flip phones, car doors, and removing the cap of a pen.
  • In Maken-ki!, this is how Celia's "reverse" power works. Normally, she just uses it to reverse someone's momentum when they attack her, and for a while everyone assumes that's all she can do. However, she can also reverse a fighter's strength (making them weak), reverse the Determinator's aggression (turning him into an apathetic mess), and reverse her own gender (turning her from her natural male gender into a girl).
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Tsuyu's Quirk allows her to do whatever a frog can. Which means she has very powerful leg muscles, can leap huge distances In a Single Bound, has a very long and powerful tongue, has excellent mobility in water, can adhere to walls, hide things in her stomach to get them out later, and even camouflage herself. As a downside, however, she's ectothermic and becomes sluggish in the cold.
    • Similar to Tsuyu, Mirko's quirk is basically "anything a rabbit can do", which gives her some monstrously strong legs along with Super-Hearing and Danger Sense. She's the 5th top-ranked hero and the no.1 female hero in Japan, even beating out other top-ranked female heroes whose quirks involve turning gigantic and transforming into an enormous dragon.
    • Inverted with the USJ Nomu: its Quirk is Shock Absorption, not Shock Nullification. All Might realizes he can exploit this and, figuring the Nomu's Quirk must have a limit to how much it can absorb, engages in a Pummel Duel with it until it can't absorb his punches anymore, after which he sends it flying with a Megaton Punch.
    • Eri's Quirk is described as being able to "rewind" things to a previous state. So far, her blood's removed Quirks, she's undone fusions, healed injuries, and erased people from existence. Because such a power could easily become a Story-Breaker Power, she's hospitalized and feverish at the end of her spotlight arc, which also implies that her power is limited.
    • "One For All," the protagonist's inherited Quirk, behaves like this, but only over long periods of time. Originally it was a weak ability to "stockpile power" combined with a separate ability to transfer Quirks to others. Turns out it can "stockpile power" over multiple generations, so it gradually inherited characteristics from its users until it became a super-strength and super-speed combo. It seems to have also "stocked" some of the collective will of its past users, as seen when their spirits seemingly intervene to break Midoriya out of a mind-control attack. His mentor and predecessor tells him not to narrow-mindedly imitate the way he used this Quirk, since developing his own style will both allow him to fight more effectively and allow the Quirk itself to become more powerful. And then it's revealed the natural extension of it "stockpiling" powers when most of the previous users had other Quirks as well as One For All; it's reached the point that the other Quirks locked within One For All are being unlocked, granting Izuku six more Quirks. And since the "stockpiling power" makes One For All more powerful with each generation, Midoriya's versions of these Quirks will also be stronger than the previous wielders' versions of them. The Superpower Lottery has officially been won by him. The only downside is that the increased power makes learning to control these Quirks also more difficult...and while this is a serious downside the first few times he uses a Quirk, he masters each of them fairly quickly after that.note 
    • Tamaki Amajiki's Quirk, Manifest, lets him don the attributes of whatever he ate so long as it's still in his digestive system. If he eats shellfish, he'll manifest the shell. If he eats vegetables, he'll manifest leaves. If he eats takoyaki, he'll manifest octopus tentacles, and so forth. And the thing he eats doesn't need to be food, as demonstrated during the Shie Hassaikai arc, where he eats one of an Extra-ore-dinary gangster's crystals.
    • Best Jeanist’s Master of Threads quirk is usually thought of in terms of clothing and fabric fibers, but he can also control things like steel building wires.
  • One of the marks of a strong Devil Fruit user in One Piece is how many of these uses for their powers they can figure out. In a column for his Direct Line to the Author, series creator Eiichiro Oda stated that Devil Fruit powers never change or grow stronger over time; their users just get more creative.
    • Gecko Moria's Shadow-Shadow Fruit allows him to control his own shadow as though it were a clone of himself; it can also be broken apart to serve other purposes, and Moria can even switch places with it at will. But perhaps a deadlier use of his ability is the power to remove the shadows of his enemies, which he can then transplant into corpses to grant them the skills of the shadow's owner, making him a necromancer in all but name: such corpses become zombies that inherit the personality of the shadow's owner, and Moria can alter the shape of the transplanted shadow to alter the physical form of the zombie's body (when it is usually the shadow that reflects the shape of the owner). As a rather nasty side effect, people who've had their shadow stolen will be disintegrated if exposed to sunlight, under the logic that if an object Casts No Shadow, then it doesn't exist. If pushed into a corner, Moria can forcibly reclaim the stolen shadows and transplant them into himself, gaining the cumulative strength and size of the absorbed shadows; he becomes colossal after absorbing 1,000 shadows.
    • Bartholomew Kuma ate the Paw-Paw Fruit. He can push and repel anything with the paws on his hands. While he can repel any attack he can put his hand on, it doesn't stop there. First off, anything he repels he can do so at any speed he desires, such as the air itself. His "Paw Cannon" where he reflects the air at supersonic speeds serves as a powerful ranged attack while also pushing himself so fast he seems to be teleporting. He can push the air and concentrate it into a large paw bubble and condense it to make a pressure explosive. He can send someone basically anywhere in the world they can travel to via a straight line (or taking gravity into account, a parabolic curve) at intense speeds. That straight line limitation is only as far as one can guess. He can even repel the pain out of someone, taking the form of an ominous red bubble that can then be pushed into someone to deal them the damage and fatigue the other person had.
    • Trafalgar Law, who has the Op-Op Fruit, can operate on things inside a spherical space. Being a surgeon, the ability to perform operations is fitting, but living things are not the only thing he can operate on and the word "operate" itself is not limited to a medical context. This translates to him being able to literally "work" (i.e. "operate") on anything inside his space, manipulating and modifying everything inside. After the Time Skip, it’s shown that his abilities are far more than just manipulation. He can scan objects, remove your still-beating heart and make people switch bodies (by transplanting people's souls), electrocute his target by using his hands as a defibrillator, and even generate and wield radiation-like energy weapons to fry his enemies from the inside. Awakening his Devil Fruit brings new possibilities to the table by allowing him to coat his sword with a compressed ROOM, allowing him to alter its length and channel electricity through it while otherwise harmlessly phasing through his target, or latch a remote version of ROOM at his target to apply specific effects on them from a distance.
    • Charlotte Brûlée ate the Mirror-Mirror Fruit, which gives her a variety of different powers relating to mirrors and reflections, resulting in a loosely related set of Combo Platter Powers. She can enter and exit from mirrors, which she does via access to a "Mirror World" that appears to be an alternate dimension; perfectly imitate someone else's movements while taking on their mirror image form including duplication of powers; appear in mirrors and affect the world outside of mirrors; and temporarily morph a human or animal into a duplicate of another human or animal.
  • The magical girls' individual powers in Puella Magi Madoka Magica and its spin-offs come from their wishes. Some are pretty obvious simply from the wish's wording, some are not. The more specific the wish is, the simpler the power is. Sayaka, who wished for her crush's hand to be healed has the power to heal almost instantly, while Mami, who wished to survive a car crash, has her power derived from a Buddhist philosophy of "connecting to life" which granted her power to create ribbons that she can manipulate and shape as she wishes. Those barriers, muskets, and cannons she uses? Made from ribbons. And in Rebellion, she makes a clone, who may have fought an elaborate Gun Fu battle with Homura, out of those ribbons.
  • In Sachie-chan Go!, the Octonians reward a pair of Earth heroes with rewards to be chosen from a (physical) catalog, using a machine that materializes the pictures within. Zarido, who comes from a drought-stricken small village, chooses the lush mountain on the catalog cover. The Octonians have no choice but to give him the reward.
  • The "hundred power" possessed by Kotetsu and Barnaby in Tiger & Bunny is said to increase their abilities a hundredfold. They primarily make use of the considerable boost this gives to their strength, speed, and ability to resist injury, but Kotetsu is also shown using it as a Healing Factor and to enhance his senses when needed.
  • In Tsukihime and The Garden of Sinners there exist the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception which allow you to see the "lines of death" of objects, which cause the object to be destroyed when cut. This has been applied not only to destroy inanimate objects and mortal beings but also numerous immortals, poisons, telekinetic attacks and barriers, and even space. The concept of death is stretched to the point where it is said that by the end of The Garden of Sinners Shiki at full power is basically a god.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman: Some writers give Aquaman power over any living thing that has a connection to the sea. The trick is that it doesn't have to be a present connection: so long as the creature, or its ancestors, was in the sea at some point in time, he can control it. Guess where all life on Earth originates from?
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: This is about the only limitation to the infuriatingly annoying Gladstone Gander's inherent power of extremely good luck. Specifically, Gladstone seems to have the ability to always receive an outcome that has the lowest possible odds. This backfires on him, especially when he tries to manipulate that outcome, on several occasions:
    • In one instance, Huey, Dewey, and Louie fill a contest-entry box with pieces of paper with Gladstone's name on them, and leave only one of Donald's. Gladstone, confident of his victory, chooses a piece and gives it to the judges... only to realize (too late) that with the odds so stacked against Donald, the luckiest option would be choosing his name. Sure enough, Donald wins. Subverted on the final page, where Gladstone insists that no amount of semantics can change the fact that having good luck should not lead to losing unless there was something bad about winning — and then finds out, much to his schadenfreude, that Donald's victory did indeed amount to him being Blessed with Suck.
    • Gladstone, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie once competed to find a rare ruby buried somewhere on a beach. While the boys dug, Gladstone spread his towel out on the sand and waited, knowing full well that his luck powers would eventually hand the ruby to him. When he finally got impatient and left, Huey, Dewey, and Louie decided to check the one spot no one had thought to look: under Gladstone's blanket. And sure enough, that's precisely where the gem was. In other words, Gladstone's powers did find the ruby's hiding place — they didn't give it to him.
    • Gladstone himself occasionally complains about the semantics of his luck in instances that overlap with Blessed with Suck. His power specifically gives him abnormally good fortune like winning sweepstakes or finding treasure (in other words, things that have incredibly low odds)...which means that "minor" lucky things (like catching a bus or finding what he needs while shopping) are basically impossible. He even has to have Donald run simple errands for him because any attempt he makes to get to a store is inevitably blocked by a constant string of once-in-a-lifetime happenings that don't let up until well after said store has closed.
  • Doctor Strange is the Master of all Mystic Arts, thank you. In an early appearance, he saves some bystanders using the Indian rope trick, an old standard from stage magic.
  • The Flash: Mirror Master can do just about whatever the writer can imagine as long as it involves light and/or glass, up to and including creating entire mirror universes. As he says in vol. 2, issue #212:
    "I can use a mirror a thousand different ways. Can turn a man inside out. Cut a hole through a seven-foot concrete wall. Make ye see things from yer fantasies — or from yer worst nightmares."
  • The Inhumans:
    • Karnak, a Badass Normal member of the royal family, was given a similar semantic upgrade to Cypher's below. Originally, he was Black Bolt's bodyguard, whose training and mental focus allowed him to sense the weak points in solid objects, and strike them at just the right force and angle to make them shatter. That ability was expanded so that he can see the weak point in anything, from solid objects to fighting styles to arguments.
    • This trope is taken to its logical conclusion with the character simply named Reader. His power is warping reality to manifest whatever he reads. In his past, his people had gouged his eyes out to try and nullify this ability, but he worked around it by learning braille. Maximus correctly guesses that, since words and their meanings are entirely constructed, he can manifest any nuanced effect he wants as long as there's a word to mean so. To this end, he coins the word "floob", as a concise way to induce a mass astral projection.
  • Justice League of America:
    • Various versions of the villainous android Amazo possess the combined powers of the Justice League. One version of Amazo turns out to possess the JLA's abilities on a conceptual level to such a degree that he can copy all members present or not, and he's depowered and defeated when the heroes temporarily disband the JLA.
    • Dr. Destiny is a pro at this, employing lateral thinking for new uses and ways to return after the League beats him.
  • Wildcat from Justice Society of America has nine lives. You'd think he'd be gone after dying nine times, but nope: he always has nine lives.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes villain the Persuader has an axe said to be able to cut through anything. This includes intangible things like the force of gravity causing things to float, metaphorical things like someone's air supply, and even the boundary between timelines to build the Fatal Five into the Fatal Five Hundred.
  • Cypher of New Mutants, whose only power is the ability to understand all languages. After being written as completely useless 99% of the time, writers upgraded his powers to include programming languages and a dozen other things most sane people would never label a language. For example, understanding "body language" lets him know what somebody's going to do in a fight before they make the move — and let's not get into how broken it is to have total understanding of the language of magic.note 
  • Nico Minoru from Runaways has the Staff of One, a powerful Magic Staff that can do just about anything. The only limitation is that she can't use the same command twice and expect the same result. However, she can get away with using synonyms. A cursory look at the English language alone (and she's not limited to only English) proves that the Staff's limitation isn't so much a limitation as it is a test of her ingenuity and her willingness to expand her mind and her vocabulary. Many times, she is sidelined because she finds herself unable to come up with a new way of wording something. This even appears in Marvel Puzzle Quest, where whenever one of Nico's Staff of One abilities is used, the power name changes, at times even in other languages (Heal! becomes Kaifuku!, Curar!, and Curatio!).
  • Teen Titans: Beast Boy can take the form of any animal. Do alien life forms count? Mythic animals? Depends on writer and/or retcon. Various versions of him have also become groups of animals and a werebeast that combined traits from multiple animals.
  • Vixen has the ability to mimic the abilities of any animal in existence. Given that she lives in the Fantasy Kitchen Sink that is The DCU, this means she can copy the abilities of mythical beings such as dragons. At one point, she could also copy the abilities of the human animal, which allowed her to copy the Super-Speed of Jay Garrick (one of the Flashes), Black Lightning's electrokinesis, and every power in Superman's entire set of Combo Platter Powers, although she protested that this wasn't how her powers worked, and it turned out that the Trickster God Anansi was altering her story.

    Fan Works 
  • Harmless:
    • Jazz thinks the Box Ghost's powers could operate like this. With some flexibility about what he considers "boxes," it could provide him with a lot more versatility. Confirmed in Chapter 15, where he attacks Ammit with boxes he swiped from a Guys In White's warehouse, reminding everyone that he can not only control boxes but their contents as well.
    • Sidney Poindexter has only the basic ghost powers everywhere but on the Casper High School grounds. Grounds is the key word here. When the school is attacked, and the Ghost Shield protecting the students limits his options, he drags up the plumbing and sprinkler system.
  • Some of the more creative uses of Pokemon abilities in the Pokéumans universe have incorporated this. For instance, Pain Split, which is normally used to equal out physical damage, has also been used to displace emotional pain as well.
  • In White, the abilities of the Sternritter are based around a word, but it's shown that the extent of their abilities depends on how they interpret them, such as Gerard Valkyrie using his power of "Miracle" to become unkillable. The newest Sternritter, Yuzu, is given the power of "Light" and several remark that depending on how she uses it, she might become one of their strongest members.
  • In Juxtapose, Izuku's Quirk allows him to banish up to 10 g of any substance to another dimension so long as he's touching it, knows its structure, and where exactly he wants to make the "cut". It's the continuity of the object, not the size, that matters. When he realizes that the atmosphere is one continuous object, he quickly weaponizes it to swat a fleeing Villain out of the sky.
  • This Bites!: One Piece's use of this trope is discussed in chapter 15 when Cross is giving some of the crew advice on their abilities. They take his advice, and it winds up vastly aiding them in getting stronger.
    "Devil Fruits give powers based around a word. From there, their users can exploit that word to the utmost, pushing it to its limit, and finding copious ways to exploit them. The stupid and ineffective users, they'd do like Usopp did: they'd focus on the obvious effect, the obvious usage of their powers. Now, that might cut it for users out in the Blue Seas... but the ones here, here in the Grand Line?" I jabbed my finger out to sea. "They're the dangerous ones. The strong ones. The smart ones. They're the ones who embrace every aspect of their words and use them to the utmost. They take the words 'paw', 'string', 'love' and 'sand'..." I looked Luffy dead in the eye. "And they use those words to maintain their positions as Warlords."
  • In Path To Munchies, Taylor has an unrestrained Path to Victory (a power that automatically gives her all the steps she has to take in order to fulfill an objective) but for various reasons, she believes she has the restriction that her paths must have steps related to production or consumption of food. It still allows her to do things like finding people - by planning how to have lunch with them - or defeating an enemy - by using food as a weapon or a distraction.
  • Izuku in Bringing the Heat has a Quirk that allows him to pull anything he perceives as "hot" towards him. While initially it seems to only apply to temperature, he also pulls Ochako towards him by thinking about how hot she is.
  • In A Darker Path, Taylor's power is the Path to Ending, which gives her the steps to kill anyone or anything. Besides using it to kill Sophia, she's also used it to kill a conversation (knowing exactly what to say to make someone stop talking to her) or kill the chances of someone spotting her (knowing exactly where to step so she's always out of their line of sight). After Sophia's body is discovered Taylor considers that she might need to find a way to kill the investigation. She even proves capable of "killing" things like thread locks and bans on the PHO forums. Finally, it's implied she broke out of her locker by killing the lock.
  • Hawkmoth Gets A Reference: The akuma Shipmaster's power works based on whoever she ships using their Portmanteau Couple Name to make them fall in love with each other. For example, when she hits Chloé to ship Libee (Lila x Chloé), Lila is the first to fall in love and pull the blonde into a makeover fest. Likewise, when Ladybug gets hit to ship LadyNoir she falls madly in love with Chat, though he manages to break her out of the spell by tricking her into de-transforming behind a dumpster, as the ship is with their hero identities and not between Chat and Marinette. Though even after Shipmaster is defeated, Marinette still feels the effect of the brainwashing.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, the fairies can only "do good to bring joy and happiness." This implies that they can't use offensive or martial magic, but there's a loophole: "good" can be interpreted fairly broadly—for example, killing Maleficent might be considered evil, but they don't kill her themselves, instead helping Phillip to do it with a spell that specifically states it will let "good endure." It's also implied that they aren't allowed to use magic for their own gain—Merryweather gripes that "[turning] Maleficent into a fat old hop toad...would make me happy," but she never tries to do so. However, saving Phillip so he can kiss Aurora would make the two of them happy, and rescuing the prince and princess of two kingdoms would undoubtedly "bring joy" to the entire populace. This is probably the reason why the fairies are able to use defensive transformation magic during the climax of the movie (and Merryweather gets her wish of revenge by transforming Diablo, Maleficent's raven, into stone as part of that defense).
  • The short 2020 film The Box Assassin is about a hitman who can teleport into and conceal himself in anything that can be considered a "box", no matter how small — mailboxes, birthday boxes, boomboxes, toolboxes, pizza boxes, etc. He uses this for the Deadly Delivery and You Got Murder tropes. At the climax of the movie, he appears in the glove compartment of the fleeing target's car — also known as a glovebox.

  • In the Alcatraz Series, the Smedry family have Talents like "being late", "talking nonsense", "getting lost", "tripping and falling", "waking up ugly", "dancing badly" or "breaking things". Doesn't sound like much - until you consider that "being late" to a meeting with a bullet or "breaking" the space-time continuum are fully acceptable uses of these Talents. The guy who gets lost is the group's guide (it acts as a semi-randomized teleport; you'll get to your destination eventually, you'll just get to see a lot of other random locations first), the girl who wakes up ugly is the Master of Disguise (she's got a really broad definition of ugly), and the bad dancer is one of the deadliest martial artists in the world if there's music playing (when he says he's a bad dancer, he means bad dancer).
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Accelerator's power is "controlling vectors". Now, let's look at what he's done so far and what he says he can do. Flight because he has to LET gravity affect him. Super strength and speed that can be multiplied infinitely. Telekinesis. Pyrokinesis. Wind control. Plasma creation. Control over all electrical currents, including bioelectricity. Immunity to all weaponry and damage except lack of air, pretty much. And much, much more. Vector control means he gets to do pretty much whatever he wants to as long as it involves 'something goes somewhere,' which is basically everything since movement is the basis of, well, everything. The only things shown to affect him without tricking him or making him neglect to deflect something are magic or techniques that would make him take damage or pain that the other is feeling or something similar, since he has nothing to repel there. The only limit to Accelerator's abilities is the mathematics behind controlling the vectors: if something is too complicated for him to calculate in his head, he can't do it, even if his powers technically should cover that. This isn't too much of a hindrance to him though, as he's a practically superhuman mathematical genius.
    • Fiamma of the Right's power is to "replicate any feat performed by the right hand". As long as it's been performed by the right hand, he can do it himself. Much like Accelerator's powers, this doesn't really limit what he can do as much as it sounds like it would at first: What hasn't been performed by someone's right hand? What makes this power so terrifying is it applies to divine beings like angels as well, which is the application Fiamma typically invokes. Look at how he recreates the sword used by the cherub who protects Eden: a forty-kilometer-long flaming sword! This is nowhere near Fiamma's maximum strength, by the way.
  • Circleverse: Sandry is a stitch witch, having magical powers over thread and anything made of it. This ability extends to things that can be treated as thread. For example, she wove her magic and the magic of her three friends together to save them during an earthquake, and she "stitched" the soul of her uncle, the Duke of Emelan, to his body and kept him alive during his heart attack until the Healers could get to him. She is the only known stitch witch that can do this, since her teacher Lark, a Great Mage, can't spin or weave magic.
  • Cradle Series: Sages touch upon "Icons," Platonic ideals of specific concepts like the Sword Icon, the Strength Icon, or the Void Icon. These Icons give them Reality Warper powers directly related to their core concepts (plus a few abilities common to all Sages, like spatial transit). As it turns out, a lot of Sage work depends on how you think about something, rather than the actual effect. For example, using the Void Icon to fill a mug of water is horrifically difficult, but using the Void Icon to empty one mug into another is the easiest thing in the world, despite having the exact same effect. With enough practice the Void Sage can even "empty" someone of injuries by ordering the injury to stop existing.
  • Date A Live: Mukuro Hoshimiya's Angel, Michael, can "lock" the traits of the object it touches. It can lock anything from physical capabilities to abstract concepts, she used the ability to lock her own emotions in the past. It can disable machines, lock away emotions and memories, and even stop Earth's rotation. It can also "unlock" traits, such as space to create wormholes, herself to unleash her full power, or the bonds between particles to disintegrate the target.
  • High School D×D:
  • In Inheritance Cycle, this is basically how the Ancient Language works, with skilled/imaginative magicians able to perform feats using words that have no obvious relation. For example, Selena was able to use the word for "heal" to perform a form of Psychic-Assisted Suicide by "healing" people of all of their negative emotions, which caused them to just stand there in a state of total bliss while she just walked up to them and calmly murdered them all.
  • Kagerou Daze: Kido's Concealing Eyes lets her make people or objects within several meters of her impossible to notice. The seventh novel reveals a much different way her power can be used: causing Laser-Guided Amnesia by "concealing" memories. The final novel goes further with this, with the Concealing Eyes disabling a powerful enemy by "concealing" everything around him from all of his senses.
  • The Long Price Quartet: The Khaiate poets have this power. If they can completely and unambiguously describe a concept that nobody else has described in that fashion before, that concept becomes incarnate as an andat, and grants total power over that concept. So the poet who holds Stone-Made-Soft can harden or soften any stone anywhere in the world, while the poet who holds Clarity-Of-Vision can enhance the vision of any living thing... or blind it.
  • In Neverwhere, Door can unlock and open anything. Including, when she sets her mind to it, people, with gory results.
  • Nightside:
    • John Taylor has the power to find things. Things include lost people, secret paths, bullets that were just in your gun, air that was just in your lungs, crucial weaknesses, your death, or the possibility that you were never born.
    • Quite a few characters have powers to "choose and enforce an alternative timeline/reality/possibility." How far removed the new reality will be depends only on the user.
  • The Perfect Run: Yellow powers are "concepts." This results in people with powers like "cut anything" or "being lucky" or "being a ghost" or "controlling death." Generally speaking, Yellows are completely supreme within their own domain, and can only be defeated by bypassing it somehow. Ryan is able to avoid Fortuna's luck and Pluto's bad luck by acting within his time stop, because he is overlaying the Violet world and their powers only affect the human world. Everyone else generally agrees that Yellows are the most annoying to deal with.
  • The major characters of Playing for Keeps apparently have lame abilities, but several of their powers actually have this function.
    • Main character Keepsie inherently protects her belongings by paralyzing anyone who tries to steal something from her. In other words, anything that's hers can't be taken away. She eventually realizes that her life "belongs" to her, which makes her completely immune to intentional harm, and begins to extend this skill to several other metaphysical concepts. You know how people tend to call their companions "my friends"?
    • Michelle's power is the ability to carry and perfectly balance any tray, regardless of what's on it. She learns to translate this into a form of Super-Strength—if something is technically resting on a tray (regardless of the size of both), she can pick it up.
    • Collette is a Supreme Chef who has the power to instinctively know a person's favorite food, and how to prepare it just the way they like it. With some creative thinking, this makes her a Living Lie Detector—people who disguise themselves as other individuals (which occurs more often than you'd think in a world where Voluntary Shapeshifting is commonplace) might be able to perfectly alter their appearance, but they can't change who they truly are, and that's what her power works on.
  • Star Wars Legends: Shatterpoint: Mace Windu has the power to identify the precise point in anything, if such a point exists, on which he can perform a Shatterpoint Tap to break it. He can do this to crystals, armor plating, strategies, people's egos, the will of armies, and entire interstellar nations. However, being able to identify a shatterpoint doesn't mean tapping it will be easy, or that it will remain there permanently. His greatest shame is not killing Count Dooku on Geonosis when he had the chance — Jango Fett would've killed him immediately after, but Dooku was the shatterpoint whose death would have broken the Separatist alliance in its infancy, which the escalation of the Clone Wars means is no longer so simple.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, one of the ten powers of Surgebinding is "Adhesion". While Windrunners use Adhesion to stick objects together, Bondsmiths use it in a much more abstract sense: forging spiritual connections to people to become Instant Experts in their native language, merging the Cognitive and Spiritual Realms with the Material world in a region, and so on.
    • It's implied that the other orders also have semantic powers, though they are less pronounced than those of the Bondsmiths.
      • Windrunners have power over gravity and adhesion. They are also inspiring leaders and community builders who are good at drawing people in and binding them together.
      • Lightweavers can create illusions and transmutate matter. They are also gifted at telling lies that become true when people believe them (e.g., if you make people believe that you have power, they will start to obey you, which means that you'll have power). In other words, they create illusions of something being a certain way, and in doing so transforms the situation.
      • Edgedancers can manipulate friction to make themselves slick. They are also known to be very socially smooth, effortlessly fitting into any company.
  • Sayumi Takanashi of When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace has Origin Root, the power to restore things back to their original state. In contrast to other powers in the series that are very straightforward, it depends on interpretation and is used from healing damage to the body and fixing clothes, to teleporting backwards (by restoring oneself back to where she originally came from) to rescuing Hatoko from kidnappers by restoring the literature club back to original state with all its members present. This almost certainly includes being able to resurrect the dead, but she swore not to ever try that. Being reliant on interpretation also imposes its limits, as she cannot just restore people's superpowers away even though she wants to, as she does not subconsciously believe that having superpowers is the normal state now.
  • The proprietor of Wong's Lost and Found Emporium can find anything you've lost on his shelves. This includes physical objects like car keys and immaterial things like the respect of one's children. He finds this for one customer in the form of the mice the man must make calm but the mice are eaten by a snake before that can happen. At story's climax, another customer points out that she can help the proprietor find the chance he lost to help the first.
  • Xanth:
    • Reverse wood has the ability to reverse something, and can turn certain lame Talents into very deadly ones. Of course, given the Law Of Narrative Causality is an actual law of physics in this world, it's not surprising.
    • Bink initially appears to have no magic, but the end of the first novel reveals that he is actually a powerful magician: he cannot be harmed by magic. And one way or another, basically everything in Xanth is magic. And if finding out about this power caused someone to attack him via mundane means, even that would count as magic, so it won't work. note  And when the Demon X(A/N)th (the source of all magic) was freed, he immediately decided to come back, and characters theorize that his decision to do so was due to Bink's power (can't protect him from magic if there's no magic!). Yes, magic might only exist so that Bink can be safe from it. Try not to think too hard about it.
  • In Wings of Fire, animus magic works entirely on semantics. Probably the most infamous example of this is a bowl enchanted to duplicate anything dropped in it when a command phrase is spoken. The animus who enchanted it intended it for food only, but due to the wording of the spell, anything placed in the bowl is duplicated as long as it's small enough, and the duplicates are perfect copies down to the enchantments. Qibli abuses this to his advantage to save the entire IceWing tribe by duplicating an earring that protects the wearer from any spells ever cast on them by Darkstalker. Since the incurable plague currently afflicting the IceWing tribe was the result of a spell cast by Darkstalker, the earrings instantly cured the plague. In addition, because the Ice Kingdom is behind a magical cliff that only lets IceWings and IceWing hybrids pass, the earrings had to be distributed by an IceWing hybrid residing outside the Ice Kingdom (since Darkstalker is half IceWing, he explicitly left an exception for IceWing hybrids so he wouldn't affect himself or his descendants).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Almighty Johnsons:
    • Mike is Ullr, god of games, which means that he doesn't lose games under any circumstances—and a game is defined as anything that two people agree is a game. He's invincible in a fight if his opponent makes the mistake of betting on it, and he can even read minds if someone tells him to "Guess what". After all, it's a guessing game.
    • Johann, father of the Johnson brothers, is Njord, god of the sea. His power is to "spread oil on troubled waters," to calm the sea. While this works fine on the literal sea, he mostly uses it to calm arguments. He coasts through life doing whatever he wants, since no one can stay mad at him.
  • Once Upon a Time has the Enchanted Sand, whose power makes anything broken appear fixed. It's first used on the broken blade of Excalibur, making it look like the sword is whole again. Later, it effectively works as a love potion when Arthur uses it on his wife Guinevere to fix their "broken" marriage after finding out about her affair with Lancelot. Then things get weird when he uses it to enslave Snow and David's minds after they find out about his nefarious goals, meaning... it fixed their broken trust or something?
  • In Bewitched, a number of magical mishaps are the result of a pun or wordplay unexpected by the witch or warlock. Examples include Esmeralda trying to conjure up a Caesar Salad and conjuring up Julius Caesar instead, Uncle Arthur trying to conjure up a white bunny and conjuring up a cocktail bunny (a cocktail waitress wearing a bunny ears costume), and Esmeralda accidentally creating a dragon when she scolds Tabitha that she is making her little friend Dinah sore (a word play on "dinosaur").
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross", the title character discovers that he can obtain another person's characteristics such as age, social status, education or compassion but only if the other person agrees to make the trade.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch features it in the form of enchantments, spells cast by witches in the form of a rhyme. They are virtually limitless, but when used without Exact Words, it can affect way more things than what the witch intended to.
    Hilda: I once casted a spell to make everything round. Let's just say you can thank me for Columbus Day.

  • Rhys from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues can potentially summon any object that he wishes, or modify his body in an untold amount of ways. This is because his superpower allows him to modify reality based on what he writes on his body. Since he's limited to one word per usage, he has to get creative to make full use of it.
  • The Ballad of Edgardo: The protagonists' last obstacle on the road to Haven is Khaine, a "Shadowmancer" who's stretched his written ability to control darkness to include People Puppetry powers by claiming that he can manipulate "the darkness in people's hearts" as well. Edgardo counters Khaine's attempts to "shadow paralyze" them by this BS interpretation by interpreting his now-infinite Overflowing Spirit (an overlooked quirk of the game's mechanics that only his accidentally-broken character build can exploit) as having made his heart one of Incorruptible Pure Pureness with no "darkness" in it to exploit, before punching Khaine into the sun.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Players of Don't Rest Your Head are explicitly encouraged to use their Madness talents in metaphorical ways, especially when things are really getting dangerous. Examples:
    • Using your Super-Strength not only the usual way, but also to lift your friend's spirit, bend the truth, and crush injustice.
    • Using a knife that can kill anything, even ideas, to cut off flaws, sever unhealthy relationships, and kill personal demons.
    • Using the ability to alter weight of anything to add weight to your words, making them impossible to ignore and easily crush arguments.
  • In Nobilis, players typically stretch their powers over basic concepts of reality in this way. The God of Borders once demonstrates this by suspending the conceptual distinction between "citizen" and "criminal", which plunges a city into anarchy for a month.

    Video Games 
  • Touhou Project:
    • Yukari Yakumo's signature ability is the manipulation of boundaries. According to Yukari herself, this is a Swiss-Army Superpower which lets her do just about anything she wants, but Yukari's nature as an Unreliable Expositor makes things less than clear. In Canon she is capable of creating "gaps" that act as portals, created the "Border of Fantasy and Reality" around Gensokyo,note  and later assisted in constructing and maintaining the Great Hakurei Barrier.note  In Fanfic, "Yukari got bored again" might as well be the setting equivalent of A Wizard Did It.
    • Suika has the ability to manipulate "density and sparseness". This lets her change size, transform into mist, and create mini-Suikas and black holes. In her debut appearance, she "gathered peoples' sentiments" at the Hakurei Shrine so that they would congregate there for parties. Put another way, she manipulated population density.
    • Reisen describes her abilities as manipulation of madness, but their true nature is reading and altering waves in her surroundings. She typically uses this to scramble enemy brainwaves to mess up their focus or bend light and sound to generate illusions, but she has displayed other applications for it as well: shooting Eye Beams, communicating with other Moon Rabbits from long distances, judging peoples' personalities, seeing the Three Fairies of Light while they're invisible, and creating ultrasonic pest repellents.
    • Reimu describes herself as having the ability to float in the sky, something which just about everyone can do already. But in a tight spot, she will start teleporting around and turning intangible, while seemingly unaware that she is doing so. In truth, Reimu floats through life, instinctively following the path of least resistance to any problem (which is also the origin of her signature Homing Projectiles). The only limit to this ability is that her own thoughts cloud her instincts - she can become intangible simply by closing her eyes and clearing her mind of distractions.
    • Toyosatomimi no Miko can "listen to ten voices at once", a feat attributed to her historical counterpart Prince Shoutoku for his great skill at multitasking. In her case, however, she can choose to listen to the "Ten Desires" within a person's heart, learning their personality as well as their hopes and dreams. This ability also gives her a great affinity with ambient spirits of desire, allowing her to attract and absorb them for power.
  • In Scribblenauts, you have a notebook that summons anything and everything you write in it.
  • In The Spellcasting Series, the UPPSSY spell turns anything into its opposite, broadly speaking. For instance, it will turn a two-by-four into a four-by-two, a jellyfish into a peanut butterfish, a crooked casino into a straight casino, or a flat-chested girl into a big-busted girl. Likewise, the RATANT spell turns a spell into similarly-sounding but vastly different spell, such as turning the "spell of opposites" into "spell of opossums".
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a perfect example in the Skeleton Key, an artifact of Nocturnal, the Daedric Prince of Darkness and the Night, who is also associated with Thieves and Luck. It "unlocks" anything, in a very broadly-interpreted sense. This means that anything that is restricted, hidden, or otherwise not used to its potential can be "unlocked" with the Key. In the case of Mercer Frey, he uses it to gain Charles Atlas Superpowers. However, the player is unable to use it as anything other than an unbreakable lockpick.
  • In the Disgaea series:
    • Thieves can steal equipment from enemies, but they can also steal metaphysical concepts like health (rendering the target poisoned), memory (causing the target to forget how to use skills), consciousness (causes target to fall asleep), and even stats (increasing the thief's own, permanently).
    • A side story in Disgaea 3 has characters teaming up to discover who has stolen various things from them. Things like letters (and even spaces) from their names, forcing Master Big Star to substitute an e for his missing a and go by Master Bigster, much to his embarrassment. Possibly subverted with Salvatore; she insists her "womanliness" was stolen, but most characters loudly doubt that she ever had any.
  • Fire Emblem: Downplayed. Fire Emblem: Awakening introduced hexes as a form of Functional Magic. Hexes are not like this in general, but they stretch the definition of "spell" for the purposes of Anti-Magic about as thin as they can. "Spells" apparently include everything from diseases to connections to memories.
  • While the Things from the Paper Mario series screw with reality in a number of interesting ways, none really embody this trope like Hole Punch from Paper Mario: The Origami King. So what does he do? He's a hole puncher; he punches holes in things and can spit those holes back out. By punching a hole in the sky, he steals the sun to use as a disco ball, and he zombifies the Toads he abducted by punching a hole where their faces are! Even in battle, he can lower Mario's max HP by punching holes in his body, and he makes traps on the ground by punching holes in that.
  • Devil May Cry: According to the lore established since Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, Vergil's Yamato can cut "anything". At its base level, it's merely an Absurdly Sharp Blade; for instance, it managed to pierce Nero's durable Devil Bringer arm in Devil May Cry 4 (a feat even Dante's Rebellion can't do). However, this extends to far more than just being able to slice through any material. Depending on the power of the user and their imagination, Yamato can do some incredible things, such as cutting through space and time to open portals, as well as cutting Vergil's human half from his demon half, creating two separate individuals and kickstarting the plot of Devil May Cry 5.
  • Dmitrii Blinov from Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow possesses the ability to mimic any magical attack he's been hit by. Turns out that the definition of "magical attack" includes Soma's Power of Dominance, which lets Soma passively absorb the souls of the monsters he kills and copy their abilities. Dmitrii tricks Soma into killing him, causing his soul to be absorbed by the latter and allowing him to copy the Power.

    Web Animation 
  • One in five people in the world of Epithet Erased have powers defined by a random word, which can be anything from "Barrier" to "Soup". This seemingly includes every meaning of the word, which means a little creativity can make "useless" Epithets surprisingly powerful, hence why each character's introduction card includes a "creativity" stat to drive this idea home. A good example of this is main protagonist Molly, who isn't necessarily thrilled about having a word like "Dumb" inscribed on her soul, but is able to play with its meaning enough that she can nullify sound, reduce attacks to Scratch Damage and, in a pinch, turn people into drooling, suggestible morons. And the semantic nature of powers goes both ways, with a background character like Sheriff Gorou having so little imagination that what should be a basic Blow You Away ability in "Bluster" manifests in him only being able to blow air slightly harder than the average person.

  • In Dominic Deegan, the powers of Demon Lords are incredibly semantic. Toxel, Demon Lord of Poison, can also poison thoughts and relationships. The Lord of Treachery is so treacherous that she won't even stay dead, and exploits this for a Thanatos Gambit. But probably the best example is how Chaos demons are immune to White Magic because demons being hurt by that is a rule.
  • The titular Keys of the Exalted webcomic Keychain of Creation have the simple ability to unlock things, including the seals on the local Cosmic Horrors. However, according to Word of God, obtaining all five Keys grants the wielder omnipotence, as long as they can phrase the desired action as "unlocking". For example, the Deathlords are immortal, or one might say "locked to life", and thus can be killed with proper use of the Keys.
  • Parodied by 8-Bit Theater. Red Mage is constantly showing his companions that he can make anything a Minmaxer's Delight. Lockpicking can be accomplished, for instance, using the pickpocket skill because it's just removing a lock from a pocket in a door. The interrogation skill is simply emptying pockets of information in people's minds. This being 8-Bit Theater, Insane Troll Logic is completely applicable if you're stupid enough not to wonder how it's at all possible. ("There is no problem that cannot be overcome by an imaginative and vigorous use of the animal husbandry skill.") Likewise, Thief can steal things that are intangible or that don't exist, basically doing anything as long as can it be called "theft". Fighter can block anything, including the ground from a fall. Fighter's "logic" for this is that it's Not the Fall That Kills You…, it's the ground.
  • The Kayoss Royal Family in L's Empire are all granted a single word. Any definition of that word is available to them as a power. The current king has the power of sound; so he can control sound waves, make whatever he says perfectly believable, and put anything into a perfect (sound) state.
  • Erfworld: This is more or less how magic works in Erfworld, and there are many different disciplines. If you can think of a way to tie the wording of the task you want accomplished to that of your magic discipline, it can probably be done. However, it's strongly implied that this is just a manufactured image so that Casters can hide what their craft is truly capable of.
    • "Turnamancers" have power over turns, enabling them to reduce the number of turns required to pop units. However, they are also responsible for turning enemy units to their own side. The actual underlying gimmick for Turnamancy is that it's the magic of motivation and progression. As such, they can play around with time a little, control some aspects of movement, and affect what motivates people.
    • Shockamancy is the magic of both electricity and any sort of surprise, including the Flash Mob ability the Archons use. Shockamancy is also where most straightforwardly offensive magic spells come from, because, well...
    • Hippiemancy seems unsuited to the world of Erf, being a discipline dedicated to pacifism, peace, and love itself. However, they can force units to avoid fighting each other, or, with sufficient skill, protect themselves from harm. Also included in the broad discipline of Hippiemancy is command over Flower Power, making them expert poisoners and dealers of some nasty drugs if they so choose.
    • Signamancy covers the signs and portents of appearance (including makeup), but also signing documents or writing books. It's basically the magic of communication.
    • Thanks to the mechanics of linking casters for a spell, creative use of linking can allow for this. Example? Parson linking an Dirtamancer with a Croakamancer, and uncroaking (reviving) a volcano.
  • Grrl Power: Hench Wench has the combined powers of every supervillain who is currently legally employing her. And yes, it does specifically only work for villains.
  • In Homestuck a lot of Sburb class powers seem to depend on how creatively you can reinterpret the meaning of your class/aspect. For example, Roxy is the Rogue of Void. This translates to Thief of Nothing, which sounds useless (not stealing anything) until Jade explains that she can steal the concept of nothingness from something to create it.
  • League of Super Redundant Heroes: Cat-a-pult has the power to levitate cats, which he finds out also extends to big cats like lions and tigers... as well as cougars.
  • Use Sword on Monster:
    • Most of the protagonist characters have the ability to wield a weapon and go on "auto-pilot," allowing their body to heroically fight monsters by enchanting their swords and bodies. While most of them use swords, any weapon will do, and as it turns out, anything will do if you can conceive of it as a "weapon". Humphrey manages to expertly pilot a plane into a monster when Maga helps convince him it's just a really big sword.
      Humphrey: OUR WINGS JUST FELL OFF!
      Maga: That doesn't really matter.
    • From the other direction, it takes them a while to learn how to use their power without killing, because the auto-pilot won't stop until they've won, and defines "winning" as "killing every enemy in sight." Mostly, they disarm opponents by "killing" their weapons. With more practice, they even learn how to use their powers for more mundane things.
      Soldier: What did you just do?
      Humphrey: Made us an escape route. I just had to convince myself this wall was trying to kill me.
  • Cucumber Quest: Rosemaster has the power to control (to a limited extent) anyone with a flower-based name. This works great in the Flower Kingdom, where she erases everyone's memories of the princess that the heroes need to complete their quest. But she doesn't just have power over standard flowers; Cucumber, Almond, and Carrot are all susceptible to her power as well. This is why she kidnaps Nautilus and erases their memories of her. This gets derailed when Rosemaster kidnaps Peridot (her own ally) and erases everyone's memories of her. Peridot is so pissed off that Almond doesn't remember that she destroyed Rosemaster's memory machine.
  • Shen Comix: This strip features a wizard who can make a ball disappear under a cup — any ball, including the sun.
  • Blood is Mine: Jane's blood powers work on herself and on things that her blood is inside of. Except "herself" and "inside of" are defined purely by her own perception: for example, she can control an Air-Vent Passageway after smearing her blood over its surface because her mind considers it as "inside of the vent". Her mother took it a step further: since marriage can be defined as two people becoming one, she considered her husband a part of herself, thus she could manipulate his biology even without giving him her blood.
  • In Full Frontal Nerdity, Shawn's character acquires the "Underwear of the Gods". It turns out he can use it to enter heavily guarded bedchambers. He then decides it also works on tombs because they're "resting places".

    Web Original 
  • Tales of MU:
    • Fairy gifts. One character is blessed with the gift of "is always the strongest person in the room". When a dragon enters the same room as her, things start going out of hand.
    • Another character has the gift "divine laughter", a sparkling laughter that is appreciated by everyone except demonbloods, who react unfavorably to the "divine" part.
  • Lightfoot of Academy of Superheroes has the power to make anything he's touching go faster. Naturally, this lets him make himself go faster but he was also able to make a giant statue that would normally have taken a century to sink into the earth do so in minutes. His power makes things happen faster, not move faster.
  • On This Very Wiki, much of the protagonists of this forum game's power is based on this. At least, until the And Now for Someone Completely Different?
  • One of the winning entries on the Lyttle Lytton website, which rewards parodies of bad fiction, features a literal example, the Anagramancer, who apparently can do anything, as long as it's an anagram of the name of his enemy. So basically, he's omnipotent, but only based on the monster he's facing.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs on Batman: The Brave and the BoldAquaman uses his command over fish to control two silverfish, which are (non-aquatic) insects. Ryan Choi points out that that doesn't make sense.
    Aquaman: [cheerfully] A fish is a fish! Even if it's a bug.
    Ryan Choi: (sigh) Sure, why not?
  • In DuckTales (2017), Gladstone's ability has been shifted slightly. Specifically, he is lucky enough that he does not have to do any work, so long as he does no work in return. This means he doesn't have to go to the bank, he doesn't have to open his wallet, but it's a magical ability, so it CANNOT protect him against other magic. Luck Vampires can still trap him, and a thief of magic can still steal it.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, some of Doofenshmirtz's inventions can work like this. He once created a Rotten-inator to cheat at a meatloaf competition by causing the other entrants' meatloaf to become rotten. But during a battle, the Rotten-inator accidentally hit a book, and the reader complained that the book had a "rotten" ending.
  • Rick and Morty: Discussed in the prologue of the episode "Analyze Piss", where the pair are confronted by a supervillain parody of Magneto, except he can control cookies. Morty points out that cookies don't have a strict definition, so it leads to further questions; does it cover everything people consider cookies? Does it count ingredients of cookies? Cookie Magneto doesn't clarify beyond stating cookies are the things he controls, and we never find out what the limitations of his powers are, because Rick just kills him immediately.
  • SheZow: The effect of Anti-Aging Cream is reversed when the "Anti-" part of the label is ripped off, making it just say "Aging Cream".
  • Steven Universe: Steven's healing power's operate on semantic logic, allowing them to "heal" something as abstract as a teddybear getting ripped.
  • Tigtone needs to defeat Nothing, so he manufactures a sword that cuts nothing by repeatedly damaging and blunting his own. This does indeed let him cut into the subdimension where Nothing exists.
  • A similar gag in Toxic Crusaders: Major Disaster has the power to control plants, which comes in handy when a power plant goes critical.


Video Example(s):


The Sword That Cuts Nothing

After being tasked with the quest to destroy nothing (which is somehow a powerful force), Tigtone decides that he needs a sword that can cut through nothing. So he chips and dents his sword until it's so broken down that it can't slice through anything, meaning that it can slice through nothing. The broken sword is now able to alter reality itself and cut through pure nothingness.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / SemanticSuperpower

Media sources: