pre·​ces·​sion prē-ˈse-shən How to pronounce precession (audio)
: a comparatively slow gyration of the rotation axis of a spinning body about another line intersecting it so as to describe a cone
prē-ˈsesh-nəl How to pronounce precession (audio)

Examples of precession in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Earth does not spin evenly around its axis, but rather, can wobble like a top—a process called precession. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 21 July 2023 The phenomenon is called phase precession. Quanta Magazine, 7 July 2021 This top-like motion is called precession. Frank Wilczek, WSJ, 13 Apr. 2021 Since O’Keefe’s discovery, phase precession has been intensively studied in rats. Grace Huckins, Wired, 11 June 2021 That means that each precession cycle would have lasted only about 11,000 years. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 30 Sep. 2022 In these conditions, gravitational nudges from a large satellite could have resonated with the precession of Uranus’ axis of spin, causing the planet to gradually tip onto its side. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 17 Oct. 2022 The Earth slowly wobbles on its axis—a phenomenon known as precession—which means certain stars in the night sky shift over time. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Oct. 2022 The trick to a perfect point: Use a precession liner and pointed Q-tip for (inevitable) cleanup. Katie Intner, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 July 2022 See More

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

Word History


New Latin praecession-, praecessio, from Medieval Latin, act of preceding, from Latin praecedere to precede

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of precession was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near precession

Cite this Entry

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

Kids Definition


pre·​ces·​sion prē-ˈsesh-ən How to pronounce precession (audio)
: a comparatively slow circling of the rotation axis of a spinning body about another line intersecting it

More from Merriam-Webster on precession

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