pro·​pel·​ler | \ prə-ˈpe-lər How to pronounce propeller (audio) \
variants: or less commonly propellor

Definition of propeller

: one that propels especially : a device that consists of a central hub with radiating blades placed and twisted so that each forms part of a helical surface and that is used to propel a vehicle (such as a ship or airplane)

Examples of propeller in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This has multiple rotors mounted on the wings, which tilt up for a vertical take-off and landing, but tilt ahead to operate like a fixed-wing aeroplane with propellers for forward flight. The Economist, "Flying taxis are taking off to whisk people around cities," 14 Sep. 2019 And a propeller, and blinking lights, including turn signals. Scott Ostler,, "Raiders’ Antonio Brown and NFL reach agreement on tinfoil helmet," 10 Aug. 2019 Lloyd Heflin, who’s coordinating the rescue, said responders had plucked two South Korean crew members from a room in the hull near the ship’s propeller and were working on removing the other two. Time, "Coast Guard Finds 4 Crew Members Trapped Inside Capsized Cargo Ship in Georgia," 9 Sep. 2019 The tilt of the petals determines the direction of the propeller’s spin. Scientific American, "Nanomachines, Jellyfish Hugs and Hurricane Dorian From Space: The Week's Best Science GIFs," 30 Aug. 2019 Consequently, the team was able to make an important observation: Terror's propeller was down as if in operating condition. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian, "Divers Get an Eerie First Look Inside the Arctic Shipwreck of the HMS Terror," 30 Aug. 2019 Concentrated helium is lighter than air and when divided into gas sacks, the vessel can stay aloft if any are breached while propellers powered by flexible solar panels can help navigation. Keith Baker, Quartz, "Four bold visions for the future of flying," 20 Aug. 2019 Hunt said, adding that some of the hydrogen in an airship could be used to power an on-board fuel cell that would spin the craft's propellers. NBC News, "Zeppelins stopped flying after the Hindenburg disaster. Now scientists want to bring them back.," 19 Aug. 2019 Six diesel locomotive engines and three gas turbines generate 75,000 horsepower to spin propellers as big around as grain silos. Los Angeles Times, "Meet the neglected 43-year-old stepchild of the U.S. military-industrial complex," 2 Aug. 2019

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

1780, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about propeller

Statistics for propeller

Last Updated

3 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for propeller

The first known use of propeller was in 1780

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for propeller



English Language Learners Definition of propeller

: a device with two or more blades that turn quickly and cause a ship or aircraft to move


pro·​pel·​ler | \ prə-ˈpe-lər How to pronounce propeller (audio) \

Kids Definition of propeller

: a device having a hub fitted with blades that is made to turn rapidly by an engine and that causes a ship, power boat, or airplane to move

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on propeller

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with propeller

Spanish Central: Translation of propeller

Nglish: Translation of propeller for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about propeller

Comments on propeller

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


suitable to be imparted to the public

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!