pro·​pel | \prə-ˈpel \
propelled; propelling

Definition of propel 

transitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for propel


drive, push, shove, thrust

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of propel in a Sentence

He grabbed him and propelled him through the door. The train is propelled by steam.

Recent Examples on the Web

Further Reading First Man is a first-rate movie about America’s most revered astronaut For adults, on the other hand, Laika has enough amusing aspects to propel you through its 88-minute runtime. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Laika: Forget historic tragedy, this first space dog saves alien planets," 14 Oct. 2018 And cinema that dares us to sit with the story, to immerse ourselves in its beauty rather than be propelled along by its plot, is still rare from an American filmmaker. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "If Beale Street Could Talk adapts James Baldwin’s novel into a haunting, gorgeous film," 18 Sep. 2018 If Icarus was damned by hubris, Whitney Houston seems from the film to have been propelled by something else: pain. Graham Ambrose,, "Darkness and light in Whitney Houston documentary," 4 July 2018 Military officials have attributed the surge in killings, in part, to a migration of pastoralists from neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon that is being propelled by changing climate conditions and insecurity. Emmanuel Akinwotu, New York Times, "Nigeria’s Farmers and Herders Fight a Deadly Battle for Scarce Resources," 25 June 2018 East Kentwood has won six Division 1 team titles in the past nine years, and the Falcons were propelled to each by a marquee sprinter. Wright Wilson, Detroit Free Press, "What to watch for at the track and field state championships," 31 May 2018 Wey, who co-hosted a seminar on cultural appropriation with Soleil Ho of the Racist Sandwich podcast, responded to the idea that the awards could lead to black chefs being propelled to prominence in San Francisco. Justin Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Black chefs hopeful, skeptical as culinary world grows more inclusive," 28 May 2018 The airline didn’t, and for a week Cagle was propelled into the national discourse: Hated by some, lionized by others. Greg Bluestein, ajc, "Today is the last day of early voting in Georgia: Catch up on the governor’s race.," 18 May 2018 His forces were largely sidelined in the battle, even as other militia commanders were propelled to new heights of power. Susannah George, Fox News, "Iraqi Shiite cleric gained ground with nationalist voice," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propel.' 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 propel

1558, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for propel

Middle English propellen, from Latin propellere, from pro- before + pellere to drive — more at felt

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about propel

Statistics for propel

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for propel

The first known use of propel was in 1558

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for propel



English Language Learners Definition of propel

: to push or drive (someone or something) forward or in a particular direction


pro·​pel | \prə-ˈpel \
propelled; propelling

Kids Definition of propel

: to push or cause to move usually forward or onward

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on propel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with propel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for propel

Spanish Central: Translation of propel

Nglish: Translation of propel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of propel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on propel

What made you want to look up propel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a knickknack or trinket

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!