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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from precession

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

Examples of precession in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

However, the Earth has moved on its axis since then, a process known as precession, so now the dates that are used to mark the signs don’t really correspond to the background constellations that give them their signs names. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "Where Do Zodiac Signs Come From? Here's the True History Behind Your Horoscope," 21 June 2018 Lescarbault’s sightings were never confirmed, and the perihelion precession of Mercury remained a puzzle for nearly six more decades. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einstein’s Theory of Gravity," 6 May 2018 All other planets orbit the sun in perfect accord with Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation, but Mercury appeared to advance a tiny amount with each orbit, a phenomenon known as perihelion precession. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einstein’s Theory of Gravity," 6 May 2018 Several years later, a radiophysicist named Paris Herouni performed a series of amateur studies branching off from Parsamian’s, using telescopic methods and the precession laws of Earth. Karine Vann, Smithsonian, "Unraveling the Mystery of the “Armenian Stonehenge”," 27 July 2017

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about precession

Statistics for precession

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for precession

The first known use of precession was in 1879

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on precession

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with precession Encyclopedia article about precession

Comments on precession

What made you want to look up precession? 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?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

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!