pay·​load | \ ˈpā-ˌlōd \

Definition of payload 

1 : the load carried by a vehicle exclusive of what is necessary for its operation especially : the load carried by an aircraft or spacecraft consisting of things (such as passengers or instruments) necessary to the purpose of the flight
2 : the weight of a payload

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of payload in a Sentence

The truck is carrying a payload of 2,580 pounds. the space shuttle can carry a maximum payload of approximately 50,000 pounds

Recent Examples on the Web

Ultimately, SpaceX defended its rocket and an investigation revealed the true cause of the accident: the payload adapter, which connects the satellite to the rocket, failed to deploy the spacecraft into orbit. Loren Grush, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: SpaceX," 29 Dec. 2018 Its maximum cargo and payload figures trounce those of competitors by a wide margin. Cameron Rogers, Edmunds, USA TODAY, "Ready to roll: Edmunds picks best small cargo vans for businesses," 15 June 2018 Besides costing a fortune, an electric truck’s batteries would reduce payloads and recharging time would lengthen trips. Greg Ip, WSJ, "Business’s Climate Challenge: Getting Customers to Pay," 5 Dec. 2018 The company is hoping to become the second among a new wave of rocket companies that offer commercial launch services for small satellites and other payloads into low-Earth orbit for discount prices. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Virgin Orbit flies its rocket into the skies for the first time," 19 Nov. 2018 Not to carry groceries, but for payloads like cancer drugs that could be released in tumors or fertilizer only when needed in fields. Xiaozhi Lim, The Seattle Times, "Chemists in search of their Holy Grail: a plastic designed to die," 6 Aug. 2018 At the moment, the flight path, sensor payload and weapons disposal of airborne drones such as Air Force Predators and Reapers are coordinated from ground control stations. Fox News, "Air Force brings AI to B-2, F-35 and F-15," 31 July 2018 The agency works on cybersecurity, launches satellites and other payloads for the military and other government agencies, monitors ballistic missile launches and orbiting satellites and runs a military GPS system. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The U.S. Military Has Been in Space From the Beginning," 20 June 2018 The payload, known as Robotic Refueling Mission-3, will test out transferring super cold propellants in orbit, mimicking how a servicing spacecraft might fill up the tank of a satellite already in space. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Watch SpaceX launch thousands of pounds of cargo and experiments to the International Space Station," 5 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'payload.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of payload

1914, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about payload

Statistics for payload

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for payload

The first known use of payload was in 1914

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for payload



English Language Learners Definition of payload

: the amount of goods or material that is carried by a vehicle (such as a truck)

: the things (such as passengers or bombs) that are carried by an aircraft or spacecraft

: the weight of a payload

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on payload

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with payload

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for payload Encyclopedia article about payload

Comments on payload

What made you want to look up payload? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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