pro·​pul·​sion | \ prə-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce propulsion (audio) \

Definition of propulsion

1 : the action or process of propelling
2 : something that propels

Examples of propulsion in a Sentence

Sailboats use wind as their source of propulsion.
Recent Examples on the Web Airborne electric-propulsion technologies have evolved swiftly in recent years, as evidenced by the emergence of several dozen eVTOL firms, a handful of which boast serious investors and working prototypes. Jaclyn Trop, Robb Report, 13 Aug. 2022 The swimming robots would each have their own propulsion, computer and ultrasound communication, as well as sensors that can record temperature, pressure, acidity and salinity. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 14 July 2022 The biggest change in the rocket is its first-stage propulsion. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 20 May 2022 Using electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies can help achieve zero-emission aviation. John Coykendall, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2021 There will be a lot more overlap with the 911, but since the cars will have fundamentally different propulsion technologies, Porsche is not concerned about cannibalization. Jens Meiners, Car and Driver, 22 Sep. 2021 But the overall propulsion of the book is forward, toward an increasingly disturbing and corporeally arresting climax. Star Tribune, 24 Dec. 2020 One course teaches science through sports: Students learn physics by studying the propulsion of throwing different objects such as a football or discus. oregonlive, 17 July 2022 Your transverse abdominis, your rectus abdominis are playing such key parts in not only ensuring that you're streamlined, but in the propulsion as well. Greg Presto, Men's Health, 6 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propulsion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of propulsion

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for propulsion

borrowed from Medieval Latin prōpulsiōn-, prōpulsiō "action of driving out or urging on," derivative, with the suffix of verbal action -tiōn-, -tiō, of Latin propellere "to push or thrust forward, compel to go onward" (with -s- from past participle and verbal noun prōpulsus) — more at propel

Learn More About propulsion

Time Traveler for propulsion

Time Traveler

The first known use of propulsion was in 1627

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near propulsion




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for propulsion

Last Updated

16 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Propulsion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for propulsion


pro·​pul·​sion | \ prə-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce propulsion (audio) \

Kids Definition of propulsion

1 : the act or process of propelling
2 : the force that moves something forward

More from Merriam-Webster on propulsion

Nglish: Translation of propulsion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of propulsion for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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