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 The fuel will power the propulsion system, but also the electrical systems on board. Richard Tribou,, "Carnival touts Florida-bound cruise ships’ LNG fuel for Earth Day," 22 Apr. 2021 Designed by Azure Yacht Design & Naval Architecture and De Voogt, Viva, which features a hybrid propulsion system, is a particularly striking sight to behold thanks to its pearl-white livery. Tamara Hardingham-gill, CNN, "Huge superyacht squeezes down narrow Dutch canals," 22 Apr. 2021 The single-engine F-35B features a novel propulsion system that combines a swiveling engine nozzle with a downward-blasting lift fan. David Axe, Forbes, "Japan Could Build A Wall Of Stealth Jump-Jets Between China And The Philippine Sea," 20 Apr. 2021 The number of cameras can be reduced by many orders of magnitude if they are attached to a propulsion system that can bring them to the right location at the right time when the object of interest arrives there. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, "How to Photograph a (Possible) Alien Artifact," 22 Mar. 2021 But a real catfish doesn’t use propellers, so engineers concocted a propulsion system that consisted of a tail that swings side to side—just like a real fish. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The CIA Once Built a Catfish Robot Spy Named Charlie," 5 Mar. 2021 For the unversed, an Azipod is a gearless steerable propulsion system where the electric drive motor is in a submerged pod outside the ship hull. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, "Watch a 476-Foot Superyacht Hit the Water for the First Time," 1 Mar. 2021 Nuclear thermal propulsion engines use nuclear fission to heat liquid hydrogen, squirting it out the rear of the rocket to create thrust. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Pentagon Wants to Launch a Nuclear Thermal Rocket in 4 Years," 14 Apr. 2021 Earth 300 would be the first research vessel that could be powered by this revolutionary propulsion system. Bill Springer, Forbes, "Will Scientists Save The World Aboard This Nuclear-Powered 980-Foot-Long Superyacht?," 12 Apr. 2021

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

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

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Time Traveler for propulsion

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The first known use of propulsion was in 1627

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Statistics for propulsion

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Propulsion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for propulsion



English Language Learners Definition of propulsion

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


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

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