centripetal force


: the force that is necessary to keep an object moving in a curved path and that is directed inward toward the center of rotation
a string on the end of which a stone is whirled about exerts centripetal force on the stone
compare centrifugal force

Examples of centripetal force in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Notwithstanding his latest setbacks, Putin remains the centripetal force holding the Russian state together. Time, 30 June 2023 The evidence suggests that there are centripetal forces that keep metropolitan areas from continually expanding outward, and that centripetal force is going to remain. Ian Duncan, Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2022 Without any mind-blowing sci-fi level breakthroughs, the only practical way to imitate gravity on a trip to Mars is by spinning the spacecraft and creating a centripetal force. Yuen Yiu, Discover Magazine, 11 Aug. 2021 Lagrange points are stable areas of space where the gravitational pull of two large masses equals the centripetal force needed for a small object to keep pace, which means much less fuel is needed to stay in position. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 10 Feb. 2023 So, if the telescope moved into a higher orbit (a larger circular radius), the centripetal force would decrease. Rhett Allain, Wired, 7 Jan. 2022 In this case, scientists installed a poll in the middle of the room to serve as an anchor for some serious centripetal force. Carl Engelking, Discover Magazine, 8 May 2015 The basic concept of a O’Neill cylinder is that a spinning tube-like structure simulates gravity via a centripetal force acting on humans living on the cylinder’s inner surface. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 30 Jan. 2023 Objects traveling in a circular path experience an acceleration inward towards the center of the circle and a force—the centripetal force—outward from the center. Kyle Hill, Discover Magazine, 10 Dec. 2013

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'centripetal force.' 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

1686, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of centripetal force was in 1686

Dictionary Entries Near centripetal force

Cite this Entry

“Centripetal force.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/centripetal%20force. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

centripetal force

: the force that tends to cause a thing or parts of a thing to go inward toward a center of rotation

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