fric·​tion | \ ˈfrik-shən How to pronounce friction (audio) \

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

Other Words from friction

frictionless \ ˈfrik-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce friction (audio) \ 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 Piston pins, camshafts and sliding finger valve followers have all been treated with what is described as a Diamond Like Carbon treatment to reduce friction. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 20 Nov. 2021 Think about the power of a shared collaborative workflows that reduce friction between workers, services, and costs. Michael Gale, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2021 To reduce friction, bolster trust and maximize the impact of commitments, corporations should lead the way by developing new models for partnering with groups — and other likeminded companies — that support and promote racial equity. CNN, 16 Aug. 2021 This innovation has the potential to reduce trading friction, though it can also be used for tax evasion. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 10 Aug. 2021 Sleep with a pillow between your legs to reduce friction. Bethany Fulton, SELF, 23 July 2021 His prescription is to reduce the friction around the issue rather than try to solve an intractable problem. Michael Crowley, New York Times, 14 June 2021 Teflon-bearing lubes or moly-sulfide engine assembly lubes can reduce friction enough to require a 50 percent reduction in tightening torque. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 21 May 2021 Two layers of sock slide against each other and reduce friction on the skin, but some folks don't like the thickness of the two layers or the slipping feeling. Matt Jancer, Wired, 11 Apr. 2021

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

Learn More About friction

Time Traveler for friction

Time Traveler

The first known use of friction was in 1704

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near friction




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for friction

Last Updated

4 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Friction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 How to pronounce friction (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on friction

Nglish: Translation of friction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of friction for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about friction


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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