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

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Other Words from friction

frictionless \ ˈfrik-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce frictionless (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The administration formally proposes its Fiscal Year 2021 budget on Monday, though friction with Congress and election-year politics may make this plan more contentious than most. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Trump budget proposal pitches billions for rural America, a key constituency in 2020," 6 Feb. 2020 Japan reported Thursday that its trade balance was negative in 2019 for a second straight year, as China-U.S. trade tensions and friction with neighboring South Korea bit into exports. Washington Post, "Asian shares higher despite growing impact of China virus," 23 Jan. 2020 In the weeks since, the NBA and Rockets have worked to defuse the friction with China, putting players and coaches in the awkward position of appearing to take a neutral stance on Hong Kong’s anti-government movement. Mike Hixenbaugh, NBC News, "For Houston Rockets' Asian American fans, the NBA-China fight is personal," 25 Oct. 2019 Compared with implants that have a smooth outer surface, textured implants provide more friction with the surrounding tissue and thereby are more likely to stay in place. Naseem S. Miller,, "2 Florida women file $5 million lawsuit over recalled Allergan breast implants," 7 Aug. 2019 Even the air smells like the friction of rubber screeching around a track. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "Andretti Indoor Karting & Games blends adrenaline with state-of-the-art tech," 3 Mar. 2020 Some people shut down and avoid the friction; some prefer to lay blame and become aggressive. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "A counterterrorism expert explains how to deal with your mother and problem co-workers," 1 Mar. 2020 The mission team has tried several strategies to get the mole moving, including pressing on the side of the probe with InSight’s robotic arm to generate the required friction. Mike Wall, Scientific American, "NASA’s InSight Lander Reveals New Details of Martian Quakes and Magnetism," 24 Feb. 2020 The friction in Kathleen West’s Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes is between the adults in the fictional Minneapolis suburb of Liston Heights, where the parents are moneyed, the children are ambitious and the houses have four-car garages. Dallas News, "Well-to-do parents are out of control in the biting ‘Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes’," 11 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for friction

Time Traveler

The first known use of friction was in 1704

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Statistics for friction

Last Updated

22 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Friction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for friction


How to pronounce friction (audio)

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

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