fric·tion | \ ˈfrik-shən \

Definition of friction 

1a : the rubbing of one body against another the friction of sandpaper on wood

b : the force that resists relative motion between two bodies in contact oil in a car engine reduces friction

2 : the clashing between two persons or parties of opposed views : disagreement friction between neighbors friction between state and federal authorities

3 : sound produced by the movement of air through a narrow constriction in the mouth or glottis

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from friction

frictionless \ˈfrik-shən-ləs \ adjective
frictionlessly adverb

Examples of friction in a Sentence

the friction of sandpaper on wood Oil in a car engine reduces friction. It was difficult to reach an agreement because of the friction between the two sides.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Yet the Miltonic search for truth and knowledge is all about friction, about the human growth that comes with the complications of human existence. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018 Assam’s pursuit of slow, democratic and legally sanctioned ethnic cleansing is also causing friction with the central government. The Economist, "From dusty villages to Delhi, Indians seek people to persecute," 5 July 2018 The result has been constant friction between lobstermen from both countries, as their traps get entangled or sabotaged. David Abel,, "Fish wars loom as climate change pushes lobster, cod, and other species north," 21 June 2018 Krantz acknowledged there could be friction over the latest change, as occurred in 2013 when town officials revamped the peddlers section of the code to specifically designate where food trucks and other mobile vendors could operate. Allan Vought, The Aegis, "Bel Air may expand food truck zone to include Main and Baltimore Pike," 13 Apr. 2018 Patriots’ Super Bowl hangover – Cracks started to surface last season amid reports of friction between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and questions about the Patriot Way have persisted in the months following the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "10 takeaways of the NFL's offseason heading into training camps," 18 June 2018 The deeply divisive issue is the latest point of friction between faith and politics in this predominantly Catholic country. NBC News, "Portugal's parliament rejects euthanasia, doctor-assisted suicide," 30 May 2018 Sale of the digital-health unit also could remove an area of possible friction between Nokia and several companies that license its patents to make their handsets and tablets. Carol Matlack,, "Nokia, Bowing to Smartwatch Dominance, Sells Digital-Health Unit," 2 May 2018 The issue is a major source of friction between drug companies and insurers. —revising the Food and Drug Administration’s drug review and approval process to promote competition. Matthew Perrone, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s big promises on drug costs followed by modest steps," 11 Feb. 2018

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

1704, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for friction

earlier, therapeutic rubbing of the limbs, from Middle French, from Latin friction-, frictio, from fricare to rub; akin to Latin friare to crumble, and perhaps to Sanskrit bhrīṇanti they injure

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about friction

Statistics for friction

Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for friction

The first known use of friction was in 1704

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for friction



English Language Learners Definition of friction

: the act of rubbing one thing against another

: the force that causes a moving object to slow down when it is touching another object

: disagreement or tension between people or groups of people


fric·tion | \ ˈfrik-shən \

Kids Definition of friction

1 : the rubbing of one thing against another

2 : resistance to motion between bodies in contact Oiling the parts of the machine reduces friction.

3 : disagreement among persons or groups

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on friction

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


alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!