elec·​tro·​mag·​ne·​tism | \i-ˌlek-trō-ˈmag-nə-ˌti-zəm \

Definition of electromagnetism 

1 : magnetism developed by a current of electricity

2a : a fundamental physical force that is responsible for interactions between charged particles which occur because of their charge and for the emission and absorption of photons, that is about a hundredth the strength of the strong force, and that extends over infinite distances but is dominant over atomic and molecular distances

called also electromagnetic force

— compare gravity sense 3a(2), strong force, weak force

b : a branch of physical science that deals with the physical relations between electricity and magnetism

Examples of electromagnetism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Ford incorporates a slew of new technologies, including the vaunted electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), which uses electromagnetism instead of traditional steam to launch aircraft from the flight deck. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "First of Its Class, America's Newest Aircraft Carrier Is Underway at Sea," 10 Apr. 2017 His attention shifted to trying to unify his version of gravity with electromagnetism. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Gravitational waves and the slow pace of scientific revolutions," 30 June 2018 It was left to Michael Faraday, in the first half of the 19th century, to define the modern understanding of electromagnetism. Charles R. Morris, WSJ, "‘Energy’ Review: The Path to Power," 21 June 2018 The firm formerly known as Dong, for Danish Oil and Natural Gas, is now Ørsted, a big wind firm named after the founder of electromagnetism. The Economist, "Royal Dutch Shell and Total flirt with becoming utilities," 28 Mar. 2018 Soon after developing general relativity, Einstein began to wonder if there might be a wave associated with gravity as there is with electromagnetism. NBC News, "Einstein made his share of errors. Here are three of the biggest," 14 Mar. 2018 Electric guitars work because of electromagnetism: The pickups on a guitar, which are transducers, receive the mechanical vibrations of the strings and turn them into an electric current. Rachel Z. Arndt, Popular Mechanics, "Play Guitar Through Your Computer Speakers," 16 Sep. 2013 Mr Manning says the industry is also looking for ways to shield equipment from electromagnetism, for example by using Faraday cages, metallic structures that block radio waves, to render the threat less effective. The Economist, "HEMP-induced anxietyAmerica’s utilities prepare for a nuclear threat to the grid," 9 Sep. 2017 The team hopes to use microfluidics (differences in either liquid or air pressure) or electromagnetism (interactions of electric currents and magnetic fields) to move the pins. Maya Wei-haas, Smithsonian, "This Device Translates Text To Braille in Real Time," 8 May 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of electromagnetism

1821, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about electromagnetism

Share electromagnetism

Statistics for electromagnetism

Last Updated

25 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for electromagnetism

The first known use of electromagnetism was in 1821

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for electromagnetism



English Language Learners Definition of electromagnetism

: a magnetic field that is produced by a current of electricity


elec·​tro·​mag·​ne·​tism | \i-ˌlek-trō-ˈmag-nə-ˌtiz-əm \

Medical Definition of electromagnetism 

1 : magnetism developed by a current of electricity

2 : physics dealing with the relations between electricity and magnetism

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on electromagnetism

Spanish Central: Translation of electromagnetism

Nglish: Translation of electromagnetism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about electromagnetism

Comments on electromagnetism

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!