I was reading an online article and come across some phrases that I couldn't clearly understand.

Several months on, the wattage of doctoral graduation has dimmed. To put it simply: I feel kind of lost and empty. There’s something anticlimactic about post-doctoral life that has left me feeling directionless and with a sense of unarticulated potential.

First, what is the meaning of 'wattage of doctoral graduation'?

Second, what is the meaning of 'unarticulated potential'?

I think those are some kind of figurative expression and I vaguely get the meaning. But I want to know the exact meanings of them.

2 Answers 2


“The wattage of X has dimmed.” is trying to communicate a sense of declining empowerment from the event or achievement as it slips into the past. This seems a fairly successful coinage.

“unarticulated potential” is attempting to communicate a feeling of not making use of the potential opportunities available due to X. In my opinion this is an somewhat unsuccessful coinage due to the mixed metaphors and unclear analogy.

  • Thank you for your explanation!
    – deerkoyan
    Nov 30, 2020 at 14:14

the wattage of doctoral graduation has dimmed

Years ago, the brightness of light bulbs was inaccurately , not to say incorrectly, measured in watts

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This served its purpose because, at one time, nearly every household lightbulb had an incandescent element. Thus they could be directly compared. A higher wattage indicated a brighter light.

Nowadays there are many different types of light-producing technologies (for example LEDs). We now measure the output of lamps in lumens


This was probably written some years ago. The author is still equating wattage with brightness.

The joy (brightness) of graduating, has been replaced by the lost and empty feeling (dimness).

  • It is exciting to know the underlying history of phrases. Thanks!
    – deerkoyan
    Nov 30, 2020 at 14:19

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