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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."

Examples of jettison in a Sentence

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
When Edoardo inevitably tires of Anna, jettisoning her to the trash heap of unfortunate women who imagined themselves to be his lover, she is undone. Jess Bergman, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2023 Detroit’s automakers, Smoke noted, have been jettisoning smaller, lower-cost vehicles for years and instead ramping up production of higher-profit trucks and SUVs that can cover their higher cost of labor. Tom Krisher, Fortune, 31 Oct. 2023 Historians knew the crew tried to keep the ship afloat by jettisoning some smaller anti-aircraft guns on the port side. CBS News, 2 Oct. 2023 Some experts credit the U.S. airline industry with popularizing tiered labor structures, which carriers embraced in the early 1980s but jettisoned after the policies dented morale and as cheaper, smaller rivals folded, reducing pressure to skimp on wages. J.j. McCorvey, NBC News, 16 Sep. 2023 The spaceplane's return cargo capacity is about 4,000 pounds (1,850 kilograms), and the expendable Shooting Star cargo module, which will be jettisoned at the end of the mission to burn up in the atmosphere, can dispose of several tons of trash from the space station. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 1 Nov. 2023 But neither has found a way to overcome their guerrilla tactics, which include jettisoning decades of tradition and openly defying their own party on the House floor. Carl Hulse, New York Times, 23 Sep. 2023 The climate corps had been proposed in early versions of the sweeping climate law approved last year but was jettisoned amid strong opposition from Republicans and concerns about cost. Matthew Daly, Fortune, 21 Sep. 2023 The longtime manager Peter Jesperson was jettisoned for thinking too small or thinking too big or maybe some combination of both. Elizabeth Nelson, The New Yorker, 21 Sep. 2023
Hot staging comes two seconds later with the simultaneous ignition of the Starship upper stage and jettison of the Super Heavy booster. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 8 Nov. 2023 Sarafin ticked off all of the launch accomplishments including all of the separation events for the rocket including the boosters, fairings, jettison of the launch abort system, shutdown the four RS-25 engines and jettison of the core stage. Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel, 17 Nov. 2022 There’s physical freedom and authenticity: Charlotte jettisons shapewear and lets her belly hang out in an adorable new dress. Vicki Shabo, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Aug. 2023 And there are the older restaurant’s original chairs, which designer Becky Carter decided to restore rather than jettison for newer pieces. Bebe Howorth, ELLE Decor, 31 July 2023 Hire back your engineers, focus on what works and jettison what doesn’t. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2023 But the deal jettisons many top conservative priorities contained in a bill passed by the House last month: deeper spending cuts, elimination of billions in funding for new IRS agents and a rollback of green energy incentives intended to tackle climate change. Joseph Morton, Dallas News, 30 May 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 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 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on jettison

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