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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The economic ties meant to buttress the relationship have now become a major source of friction. Richard N. Haass, WSJ, "The Crisis in U.S.-China Relations," 19 Oct. 2018 The decision caps a long history of friction between the government and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or Cicig for its initials in Spanish. Fox News, "Guatemala president shuts down UN anti-corruption commission," 31 Aug. 2018 That friction was on display recently when Starbucks attempted to move into Boston’s North End, historically an enclave of Italian-American business and culture. Milton J. Valencia,, "Another Starbucks or CVS? Not without Boston’s OK under new proposal," 11 July 2018 This increases the friction on the rope, preventing it from moving through the device and the climber from plummeting to the ground. Hayden Carpenter, Outside Online, "Testing Wild Country's Revo Belay Device," 2 July 2018 As long as the frictions are absent across emerging markets or between the eurozone and its trading partners, the chances are high that the global recovery can continue. Paul Hannon, WSJ, "Eurozone Business Confidence Holds Up in Face of Fresh Tariffs," 28 June 2018 Like a distress signal visible way up the hill, something that looks like smoke rises from the friction of rubber on asphalt. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: USA Luge's search for next great Winter Olympian visits Indianapolis," 28 June 2018 The suitemates had far different workloads, which compounded the friction, and drove Allison and Jonathan to move off campus the following year. M.a.c. Lynch,, "Love Story: Brought Together In A Hurricane," 24 June 2018 There’s a backstory to the friction between Rhynhart and Dubow. Phillyclout Team,, "Who pulled strings to get killer cop Ryan Pownall a patronage job? | Clout," 22 June 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.

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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

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Statistics for friction

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for friction

The first known use of friction was in 1704

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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

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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).


by force of circumstances

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