air·​speed ˈer-ˌspēd How to pronounce airspeed (audio)
: the speed (as of an airplane) with relation to the air compare ground speed

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Investigators determined the plane crashed in a mid-ocean thunderstorm after its airspeed sensors froze and gave false readings. Harold Maass, The Week, 18 Apr. 2023 Ice crystals threw off the plane’s airspeed sensors and its autopilot disconnected. Aurelien Breeden, New York Times, 17 Apr. 2023 The flight-data recorder tracks more than 1,000 flight details, such as airspeed and altitude, the status of smoke alarms and the position of the wing flaps. Liza Lin, WSJ, 27 Mar. 2022 The Seattle Times reported that MCAS had initially been designed to be much weaker and to kick in only at high airspeed, which is why Boeing allowed just one angle-of-attack sensor to activate it. James Ross Gardner, The New Yorker, 3 Feb. 2023 Strides in the fabrication of microelectromechanical systems, for example, allowed tiny gyroscopes, accelerometers, and airspeed sensors to be added to the smallest of these vehicles, along with increasingly compact and reliable GPS receivers. David Schneider, IEEE Spectrum, 22 Jan. 2011 This means each Doppler filter works as a velocity gate for a very specific airspeed. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 15 Feb. 2023 Yet the airspeed is controllable, providing guests with just the right amount of airflow for optimal flight. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 8 Feb. 2023 Granted, there are certain variables, such as impact from airspeed, that can vary slightly between different airplane types. Doug Drury, CNN, 8 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'airspeed.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1909, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of airspeed was in 1909

Dictionary Entries Near airspeed

Cite this Entry

“Airspeed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


air·​speed -ˌspēd How to pronounce airspeed (audio)
: the speed of an airplane according to measurements of the surrounding air rather than of the ground below
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