pro·​pel·​ler prə-ˈpe-lər How to pronounce propeller (audio)
variants or less commonly propellor
: 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 In terms of grunt, the cat is equipped with two propellers that are powered by a diesel engine through a reverse-reduction gearbox. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 15 Nov. 2023 Both variants have a propeller in the back to push it through the air. Rob Verger, Popular Science, 26 Oct. 2023 Palestinian guerrillas were trying to attack a country protected by one of the most powerful militaries in the world — with hang gliders that were scarcely more than kites retrofitted with propellers and engines the size of a lawn mower’s. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 9 Oct. 2023 In the past few years, accounts of San Francisco’s unravelling—less like a tired sweater than a ball of yarn caught in a boat propeller—have spread with the authority of gossip or folklore. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2023 The mosquito trap’s propeller is positioned behind a protective layer to keep out curious small fingers. Kate Oczypok, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Oct. 2023 Rotating on the engine’s drive shaft whirred a fiberglass propeller. Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Aug. 2023 Maricopa County Sheriff's Office The parents realized their child was in the water and that her leg had been amputated by the boat’s propeller, according to the sheriff's office. Mirna Alsharif, NBC News, 30 July 2023 Sleek and gray, and resembling a sports car, the vehicle boasts hidden propellers and a gimbaled driving cabin to stabilize the driver and passenger. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, 4 July 2023 See More

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

Word History


propel + -er entry 2

First Known Use

1780, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of propeller was in 1780

Dictionary Entries Near propeller

Cite this Entry

“Propeller.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pro·​pel·​ler prə-ˈpel-ər How to pronounce propeller (audio)
: a device consisting of a hub fitted with blades that is made to turn rapidly by an engine and is used especially for propelling airplanes and ships

More from Merriam-Webster on propeller

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!