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jet·​ti·​son ˈje-tə-sən How to pronounce jettison (audio)
jettisoned; jettisoning; jettisons

transitive verb

: to get rid of as superfluous or encumbering : omit or forgo as part of a plan or as the result of some other decision
must be prepared to jettison many romantic notionsChristopher Catling
: to drop (cargo) to lighten a ship's load in time of distress
: to drop from an aircraft or spacecraft in flight
jettisonable adjective


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: a voluntary sacrifice of cargo to lighten a ship's load in time of distress

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The Origin of Jettison

Jettison comes from Anglo-French geteson, which means literally "action of throwing" and is related to the Latin verb jactare, meaning "to throw." The noun jettison refers to a voluntary sacrifice of cargo to lighten a ship's load in time of distress, and it is the source of the word jetsam (the name for goods "jettisoned"); the word is often paired with flotsam ("floating wreckage"). These days you don't have to be on a sinking ship to "jettison" something: the verb also means simply "to get rid of."

Example Sentences

Verb The captain gave orders to jettison the cargo. They jettisoned the fuel and made an emergency landing. We should jettison these old computers and get new ones. They jettisoned plans for a vacation. Noun with his ship rapidly sinking, the captain ordered a last-ditch jettison of much of its cargo
Recent Examples on the Web
The note didn’t specify how many people would be jettisoned, but The Wall Street Journal reported that at least 1,200 employees will be laid off. Michael Liedtke, Fortune, 21 Apr. 2023 Los Angeles jettisoned two-time Cup-winning goalie Jonathan Quick for Joonas Korpisalo, and the Kings outscored their problems despite a team save percentage of .892 that's fifth-worst in the league. Stephen Whyno, ajc, 15 Apr. 2023 After their World Series curse was lifted, the Cubs faded away and jettisoned their stars. Scott Miller, New York Times, 26 Feb. 2023 It’s designed to jettison the capsule away from the exploding core stage and steer it out of the path of the ailing rocket. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, 3 Sep. 2020 But instead of falling into a black hole, sometimes particles are jettisoned near the speed of light from the black hole’s polar regions. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 1 May 2023 While most of my interviews with experts start with my having a grasp of my column’s direction and a relevant list of questions, my favorite interviews jettison off to lands unimagined, unexpected and as yet unexplored. Marni Jameson, Orlando Sentinel, 28 Apr. 2023 In her column, Art and About, Mueller jettisoned critical distance altogether, reviewing shows by friends and lovers and charting cultural trends mostly to criticize them. Negar Azimi, The New York Review of Books, 30 Mar. 2023 After missing the tournament in 2021 and getting jettisoned early last spring, the Wildcats have looked tired and predictable on offense while struggling to lock down a postseason bid. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 8 Mar. 2023
The book written by David Thompson with Sharon Washington maintains the film’s immediate post-World War II jubilance but jettisons much of the plot that was specific to De Niro and Minnelli. Charles Mcnulty, Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2023 In fact, to deal with this excess weight and size, most space shuttles jettison their massive rocket engines just minutes after a successful launch. Paul M. Sutter, Discover Magazine, 5 Apr. 2023 Hong Kong’s economic growth is set to accelerate this year as the city jettisons Covid-19 curbs and reopens its borders with mainland China, bringing a return to business as usual. Rainer Michael Preiss, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2023 The new monthly magazine, TV Insider, features content from the TV Guide Magazine staff — but jettisons the 70-year-old publication’s listings, instead focusing on more coverage of TV programming. Michael Schneider, Variety, 20 Feb. 2023 After the early jettison of the Electron booster, Rocket Lab’s recovery ship retrieved the stage for analysis on shore. Rob Pegoraro, PCMAG, 3 May 2022 Will the new Vikings general manager kickstart a rebuild and jettison quarterback Kirk Cousins, who carries a $45 million cap hit next season? C.j. Doon,, 11 Jan. 2022 Such anemic demand means that anything less than a robust rebound over the coming months will prompt airlines to cut more employees, jettison older aircraft, and cut more salaries, which in turn could persuade more workers to depart. Justin Bachman,, 20 Apr. 2020 In Barrie’s version, Wendy is soon cooking and caring for the boys, sidelined by the period conventions that Zeitlin thoroughly jettisons. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 27 Feb. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jettison.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English jetteson, from Anglo-French geteson, literally, action of throwing, from Latin jactation-, jactatio, from jactare — more at jet

First Known Use


1848, in the meaning defined at sense 2


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of jettison was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near jettison

Cite this Entry

“Jettison.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to throw goods overboard from a ship or aircraft especially to lighten it in distress
jettison noun

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