kinetic theory

noun

Definition of kinetic theory

: either of two theories in physics based on the fact that the minute particles of a substance are in vigorous motion:
a : a theory that the temperature of a substance increases with an increase in either the average kinetic energy of the particles or the average potential energy of separation (as in fusion) of the particles or in both when heat is added

called also kinetic theory of heat

b : a theory that the particles of a gas move in straight lines with high average velocity, continually encounter one another and thus change their individual velocities and directions, and cause pressure by their impact against the walls of a container

called also kinetic theory of gases

First Known Use of kinetic theory

1864, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About kinetic theory

Time Traveler for kinetic theory

Time Traveler

The first known use of kinetic theory was in 1864

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near kinetic theory

kinetics

kinetic theory

kinetin

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for kinetic theory

Cite this Entry

“Kinetic theory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kinetic%20theory. Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on kinetic theory

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about kinetic theory

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!