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

And in their approach to try to discredit the investigation rather than minimize it, the White House has only increased the size of the payload. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Is 2018 really all about Russia?," 18 July 2018 Then SpaceX launched its new Falcon Heavy rocket toward orbit around Mars on a demonstration mission — carrying Musks’s very own cherry-red Tesla Roadster as part of the payload. Fortune, "Elon Musk Continues to Befuddle Planet Earth. But Has He Taken On Too Much?," 9 Feb. 2018 Such small satellites typically hitch a ride as a secondary payload on a rocket dedicated to lifting a larger spacecraft, which means schedules often are at the mercy of the main customer. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "SpaceX Launches 19th Rocket in a Year, a Company Record," 3 Dec. 2018 For the Formosat-5 mission SpaceX flew in August 2017, the Falcon 9 rocket was carrying an Earth observation satellite for Taiwan’s National Space Organization that weighed just 475 kg — a light payload for the Falcon 9. Grace Donnelly, Fortune, "Elon Musk's Falcon 9 Rocket Tore a Hole in the Atmosphere," 26 Mar. 2018 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

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

11 Feb 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 fawning attentiveness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

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!