pay·​load | \ ˈpā-ˌlōd How to pronounce payload (audio) \

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

Built by Maxar for the Canadian Space Agency, the Radarsat Constellation Mission comprises three remote-sensing spacecraft designed with large surface-scanning radars as their primary payload, Teslarati reports. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: A Yellow Sea launch, SpaceX’s upcoming high-value mission," 7 June 2019 Logging trucks drive through back roads that are unpatrolled by police and deliver their payloads to secret sawmills. Fox News, "Inside the Amazon’s ‘world’s most endangered tribe’ who bathes with turtles and and eats armadillos," 1 Oct. 2018 The military is betting big on the Vulcan, Omega, and New Glenn rockets for its national security payloads. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Turbulent pricing era ahead, SLS concerns, SpaceX plays catch," 12 Oct. 2018 Its parade in February, while featuring its Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 ICBMs — the missiles that are believed capable of reaching the U.S. mainland with a nuclear payload — was deliberately kept low key. Eric Talmadge, Fox News, "As talks with US stall, North Korea preps military parade," 6 Sep. 2018 Musk decided to make his own Tesla Roadster the Falcon Heavy’s test payload, complete with an astronaut mannequin riding in the driver’s seat. Loren Grush, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: SpaceX," 29 Dec. 2018 The BepiColombo payload will be deployed about 26 minutes into flight and will signal mission control about 15 minutes after that. Meghan Bartels,, "BepiColombo, the First Mercury Mission in 14 Years, Launches Tonight — Watch Live!," 19 Oct. 2018 SpaceX is launching its latest national security payload for the US Air Force — a satellite called GPS III SV01. Loren Grush, The Verge, "How to watch four rocket launches on a banner day for the space industry," 18 Dec. 2018 Chang’e 4 will carry a cluster of international payloads from Germany, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Sweden. Leonard David, Scientific American, "Comsat Launch Bolsters China's Dreams for Landing on the Moon's Far Side," 22 May 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

17 Jun 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).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
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!