ki·​net·​ic kə-ˈne-tik How to pronounce kinetic (audio)
kī- How to pronounce kinetic (audio)
: of or relating to the motion of material bodies and the forces and energy associated therewith
: dynamic, energizing
a kinetic performer
: of or relating to kinetic art
kə-ˈne-ti-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce kinetic (audio)
 also  kī-

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Kinetic comes from the Greek word kinētikos, meaning "of motion," which in turn traces to the verb kinein, meaning "to move." Compared to some other English words that have their roots in Greek, kinetic is a relatively young English word; the earliest evidence we have of its use is from the 19th century. Although it deals with the motion of images rather than material bodies, the word cinema is also related to kinein. The verb kinein is the source of the Greek kinēma, meaning "movement," to which the French referred in the coining of their cinématographe. Cinématographe is the word that gave rise to the English word cinematograph, of which cinema is simply a shortened form.

Examples of kinetic in a Sentence

the novel's plot is kinetic and fast-paced, and its effect on the reader is much like that of a surfeit of caffeine the loft district is the locus of the city's kinetic arts scene
Recent Examples on the Web Your forearm is tight, the stress goes somewhere else in the kinetic chain. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 13 Sep. 2023 Related Story Shady Russian Satellite Breaks in Earth's Orbit Fortunately, real kinetic space warfare has yet to happen. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 5 Sep. 2023 Monday marks 11-straight days that North Korea has not responded to South Korean checkup calls on a set of cross-border inter-Korean hotlines, South Korean officials say, raising concerns about potential kinetic provocations. Kim Tong-Hyung,, 17 Apr. 2023 Last year, in a once-in-a-decade report, planetary scientists endorsed investing in a variety of asteroid defense techniques, not just kinetic impactors like DART. Ramin Skibba, WIRED, 30 Aug. 2023 But the vests also speak to the physicality necessary to keep the kinetic beat going. Fawnia Soo Hoo, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Aug. 2023 The whole structure is further perforated by LED lights that transform the stage into a fully immersive kinetic light show. Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 3 Aug. 2023 There’s a kinetic jubilation to these pink plastic tableaux. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 July 2023 This is the first in a trilogy of fantasy adventures that offer brilliantly kinetic entertainment. Vogue, 17 July 2023 See More

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

Word History


Greek kinētikos, from kinētos, from kinein — see -kinesis

First Known Use

1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of kinetic was in 1864

Dictionary Entries Near kinetic

Cite this Entry

“Kinetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ki·​net·​ic kə-ˈnet-ik How to pronounce kinetic (audio)
: of or relating to the motions of material bodies and the forces and energy associated with them

from Greek kinētikos "relating to motion," derived from kinein "to move" — related to cinema

Medical Definition


ki·​net·​ic kə-ˈnet-ik How to pronounce kinetic (audio) kī- How to pronounce kinetic (audio)
: of or relating to the motion of material bodies and the forces and energy associated therewith
kinetically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on kinetic

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