centripetal force


Definition of 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 The centrifugal forces pulling Europe apart would finally overwhelm the centripetal forces binding it together. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "How the EU Survived the Populist Wave in 2017," 17 Dec. 2017 Such notions, notes a disinterested British official, run up against the centripetal forces that drive many EU countries to remain as close to the core as possible. The Economist, "Charlemagne: The ghost at the banquetBritain’s planned departure is already changing Brussels," 2 Nov. 2017 Once in space, the wires are unwound by the motor, assisted by the centripetal force of the spinning craft. The Economist, "Space travelA new way of propelling spacecraft may open up the asteroid belt," 21 Sep. 2017 But: The centripetal force that holds the album together as a form is really starting to wobble. Ben Ratliff, Esquire, "How 2016 Brought Chaos to Music," 2 Dec. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'centripetal force.' 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 centripetal force

1686, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for centripetal force

Time Traveler

The first known use of centripetal force was in 1686

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Cite this Entry

“Centripetal force.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/centripetal%20force. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for centripetal force

centripetal force


English Language Learners Definition of centripetal force

physics : a force that pulls an object moving in a circular path toward the center of its path

More from Merriam-Webster on centripetal force

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about centripetal force

Comments on centripetal force

What made you want to look up centripetal force? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to insert between existing elements

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