cen·​trif·​u·​gal | \ sen-ˈtri-fyə-gəl How to pronounce centrifugal (audio) , -ˈtri-fi-, especially British ˌsen-tri-ˈfyü-gəl \

Definition of centrifugal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : proceeding or acting in a direction away from a center or axis centrifugal acceleration of a body
2 : using or acting by centrifugal force a centrifugal pump
3 : efferent centrifugal nerves of the heart
4 : tending away from centralization : separatist centrifugal tendencies in modern society



Definition of centrifugal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a centrifugal machine or a drum in such a machine

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Other Words from centrifugal


centrifugally \ sen-​ˈtri-​fyə-​gə-​lē How to pronounce centrifugally (audio) , -​ˈtri-​fi-​ , especially British  ˌsen-​tri-​ˈfyü-​gə-​ \ adverb

Centrifugal and Science

Centrifugal force is what keeps a string with a ball on the end taut when you whirl it around. A centrifuge is a machine that uses centrifugal force. At the end of a washing machine's cycle, it becomes a weak and simple centrifuge as it whirls the water out of your clothes. Centrifuges hundreds of thousands of times as powerful are essential to nuclear technology and drug manufacturing. Part of an astronaut's training occurs in a centrifuge that generates force equal to several times the force of gravity (about like a washing machine) to get them used to the forces they'll encounter in a real space mission.

Examples of centrifugal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The centrifugal dynamic may be more in evidence tonight. Jim Lardner, The New Yorker, "Something for the Democrats to Try at the Debates: a Little Togetherness," 12 Sep. 2019 That’s certainly true of the hero and centrifugal center of Ad Astra, stoic astronaut Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Brad Pitt Can Handle Outer Space But Not His Own Feelings in the Gorgeous Ad Astra," 30 Aug. 2019 Her speech may not convey the compact lyrical eloquence of Marc Antony, but the sights and sounds of her presentation deliver the centrifugal emotional force of a potent soliloquy. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "Elizabethan," 21 Aug. 2019 The system covers the entirety of both schools, and involves multiple pipes coming from underneath the schools' floors, and connecting to centrifugal fans on the roof. London Gibson, Indianapolis Star, "Franklin Community Schools addresses toxic air concern with new mitigation system," 25 June 2019 At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, one of the first practical centrifugal refrigeration compressor’s dating to 1922 is held in historic recognition of Carrier’s feat. Haleema Shah, Smithsonian, "The Unexpected History of the Air Conditioner," 24 June 2019 Aggressive mulching blade: Maxpower’s blade has increased surface area and a design that promotes a centrifugal air pattern to increase mulching action. Roy Berendson, Popular Mechanics, "Do I Need To Change My Lawnmower Blades?," 22 Jan. 2019 The assumption of power by nationalists and other populists in the EU’s founder countries in Western Europe would greatly increase those centrifugal pressures. Marcus Walker, WSJ, "Europe’s Fragile Center Takes New Blows," 4 Mar. 2018 Two forces enable satellites to remain in orbit: the centrifugal punch that blasted it into space and Earth's gravitational pull. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Satellites: Streaking, manmade lights in the sky," 25 Mar. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Five years ago, his kits for Porsche 911s and BMW M3s, which employed a Vortec centrifugal supercharger, were the most popular. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, "VF Engineering Lamborghini Huracán Is a Beast with Manners," 21 Feb. 2020 There will be a lot less exploratory behavior if the ant raft is spinning in response to centrifugal or shear forces. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The physics behind how fire ants band together into robust floating “rafts”," 8 Dec. 2019 Plenty of people remain almost crazy with anger, and the country’s political and cultural forces overall remain centrifugal, driving people to extremes. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "We’ve Grown Accustomed to Trump," 17 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'centrifugal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of centrifugal


1709, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1813, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for centrifugal


New Latin centrifugus, from centr- + Latin fugere to flee — more at fugitive

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Time Traveler for centrifugal

Time Traveler

The first known use of centrifugal was in 1709

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Statistics for centrifugal

Cite this Entry

“Centrifugal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/centrifugal. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for centrifugal


How to pronounce centrifugal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of centrifugal

technical : moving away from a center : acting in a direction away from a center


cen·​trif·​u·​gal | \ sen-ˈtrif-yə-gəl, -ˈtrif-i-gəl How to pronounce centrifugal (audio) \

Medical Definition of centrifugal

: passing outward (as from a nerve center to a muscle or gland) : efferent

Other Words from centrifugal

centrifugally \ -​gə-​lē How to pronounce centrifugally (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on centrifugal

Spanish Central: Translation of centrifugal

Nglish: Translation of centrifugal for Spanish Speakers

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