pro·​pul·​sion | \prə-ˈpəl-shən \

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

Perhaps, at that time, Brooks will offer more explanation for why Marshall should lead in the development of new rocket propulsion technology. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Alabama lawmaker seems desperate to keep rocket tech in his home state," 20 Mar. 2018 Instead, an obsolescing aircraft is being used to test out new propulsion technology. Christopher Schaberg, The Atlantic, "The Jet Engine Is a Futuristic Technology Stuck in the Past," 11 Feb. 2018 Newsletter Sign-up Blue Origin beat out Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., which had sought to sell its AR1 engine as the primary propulsion system for the Vulcan. Doug Cameron, WSJ, "Jeff Bezos’ Space Startup to Supply Engines for Boeing-Lockheed Rocket Venture," 27 Sep. 2018 Set dreams of cruising on the high seas aside, the pod-like houses move slowly by a propulsion system, but are not designed to travel far distances. Olivia Rassow, ELLE Decor, "Would You Live In A Floating Vacation Home?," 24 June 2014 But in 2016, critics claimed that what appears to be light propulsion of graphene sponges may actually be an effect of the experiment’s highly controlled environment that’s not reproducible in the vacuum of deep space. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Graphene," 13 Aug. 2018 Zunum is betting that between the replacement of smaller conventional planes and more people choosing to fly instead of drive, electric propulsion could generate a new $3 trillion industry. CBS News, "Electric airplanes could be just over the horizon," 9 June 2018 That is because solving theoretical problems can have real-life applications for the business years down the road, such as creating new sustainable-energy solutions and improving electric propulsion for aviation systems, according to Siemens. Lauren Weber, WSJ, "Now Fighting for Top Tech Talent: Makers of Turbines, Tools and Toyotas," 31 May 2018 Other niche players have caught on to the idea that high-performance and electric propulsion are far from mutually exclusive—and may soon become synonymous. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "Pininfarina's Back With a $2 Million Electric Hypercar," 14 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of propulsion

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for propulsion

Latin propellere to propel

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Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for propulsion

The first known use of propulsion was in 1627

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More Definitions for propulsion



English Language Learners Definition of propulsion

: the force that moves something forward : the force that propels something


pro·​pul·​sion | \prə-ˈpəl-shən \

Kids Definition of propulsion

1 : the act or process of propelling

2 : the force that moves something forward

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More from Merriam-Webster on propulsion

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with propulsion

Spanish Central: Translation of propulsion

Nglish: Translation of propulsion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of propulsion for Arabic Speakers

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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