pro·​pel prə-ˈpel How to pronounce propel (audio)
propelled; propelling

transitive verb

: to drive forward or onward by or as if by means of a force that imparts motion

Example Sentences

He grabbed him and propelled him through the door. The train is propelled by steam.
Recent Examples on the Web Barry Newman, who propelled a supercharged Dodge Challenger across the American West in The Vanishing Point and portrayed a defense attorney on the NBC series Petrocelli, has died. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 June 2023 The Wildcats had won seven of nine games entering Friday, including a run to the Pac-12 Tournament championship game that propelled them into the NCAA Tournament. Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic, 2 June 2023 His government funded vast infrastructure projects — airports, bridges, elaborate mosques — that helped lift people into the middle class and propelled the country of 85 million into the world’s 20 top economies. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2023 Hippo waste adds to water’s nutritional load, propelling the overgrowth of algae while simultaneously killing native plants and fish. Shoshi Parks, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 May 2023 Howard Ashman’s musical philosophy was that every song should propel the story forward, and songs needed to have a purpose: a character only sings when words alone cannot suffice. Barry Levitt, Rolling Stone, 27 May 2023 In 2019, OpenAI and Microsoft struck a $1 billion agreement, which has propelled them into a leading position today. Erin Griffith, New York Times, 25 May 2023 Some of the world’s most favorable tax incentives have helped propel business to historic heights. Kicking off in 2015, tax regs rose muscularly during mid-pandemic in 2020. Emiliano De Pablos, Variety, 10 May 2023 The Mustangs were propelled to victory by a near lights-out performance on the mound by junior pitcher Preston Rau. Josh Reed, Anchorage Daily News, 9 May 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English propellen "to drive away, expel," borrowed from Latin prōpellere "to push or thrust forward, compel to go onward," from prō- "before, in front" + pellere "to beat against, push, strike, rouse, expel" — more at pro- entry 2, pulse entry 1

First Known Use

1558, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of propel was in 1558

Dictionary Entries Near propel

Cite this Entry

“Propel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


pro·​pel prə-ˈpel How to pronounce propel (audio)
propelled; propelling
: to push or drive usually forward or onward
a bicycle is propelled by pedals
propelled by the crowd

More from Merriam-Webster on propel

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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