pre·​ces·​sion | \ prē-ˈse-shən How to pronounce precession (audio) \

Definition of precession

: a comparatively slow gyration of the rotation axis of a spinning body about another line intersecting it so as to describe a cone

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Other Words from precession

precessional \ prē-​ˈsesh-​nəl How to pronounce precession (audio) , -​ˈse-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Examples of precession in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Toronto team used this precession to act as the hands of a clock, called a Larmor clock. Quanta Magazine, "Quantum Tunnels Show How Particles Can Break the Speed of Light," 20 Oct. 2020 Tearing can also lead to the formation of rings that undergo precession and start wobbling around the axis of their rotation. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Three stars, warped rings may show how planets end up moving backward," 3 Sep. 2020 Their heads spin in one direction, while the tail rotates around it in the opposite direction in a process known as precession—much like Earth spinning on its axis while orbiting the Sun. Charlotte Hartley, Science | AAAS, "Watch a 3D video reveal how sperm really swim," 31 July 2020 This type of movement, which is caused by the warping of spacetime, is known as Schwarzchild precession. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Weird Black Hole-Orbiting Star Proves Einstein Right (Again)," 16 Apr. 2020 General relativity accounts precisely for the observed precession of Mercury's orbit. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Einstein wins again: Star orbits black hole just like GR predicts," 16 Apr. 2020 Scientists have observed the same type of movement, called Schwarzchild precession, in the orbit of Mercury (to a lesser extent) due to the sun's gravitational pull. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Weird Black Hole-Orbiting Star Proves Einstein Right (Again)," 16 Apr. 2020 The phenomenon, known as Schwarzschild precession, would, in time, cause S2 to trace out a spirographlike flower pattern in space (as shown above)—as general relativity predicts. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Star’s strange path around black hole proves Einstein right—again," 16 Apr. 2020 While some events started with precession in a low phase, all started with tilt at a peak or on the way up. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Italian cave makes sense of the change in Earth’s ice age rhythm," 13 Mar. 2020

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

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First Known Use of precession

1879, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for precession

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

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Time Traveler for precession

Time Traveler

The first known use of precession was in 1879

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Statistics for precession

Cite this Entry

“Precession.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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