propulsion

noun

pro·​pul·​sion prə-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce propulsion (audio)
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 Indeed, the spacecraft toppled over after touching down, with its nose planted into the lunar regolith and its rear propulsion section pointed toward space. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 25 Jan. 2024 Wider’s hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system may be what really distinguishes this cat from its competitors. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 16 Jan. 2024 It is slated to launch in 2029 with Artemis V. Dettmann described several major challenges in developing the ESPRIT, including devising a way to refuel the electric propulsion systems, designing deployable radiators, and devising environmental-control and life-support systems. IEEE Spectrum, 23 Dec. 2023 Blue also recently unveiled an in-space infrastructure program, known as Blue Ring, a spacecraft that would be able to fly between different orbits, including to the vicinity of the moon, using both chemical and electrical propulsion. Christian Davenport, Washington Post, 19 Dec. 2023 The malfunction that caused the propellant leak appears to have been with a valve that did not properly reseat during the propulsion system's initialization sequence. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 22 Jan. 2024 The SEALs found cruise and ballistic missile components, including propulsion and guidance devices, as well as warheads, Central Command said. TIME, 16 Jan. 2024 So while the propulsion leak remains, teams over the last week have been able to stabilize the vehicle and communicate with every payload on board that required powering up. Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel, 16 Jan. 2024 The mission team soon determined the problem came from a fuel leak in the propulsion system. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of propulsion was in 1627

Dictionary Entries Near propulsion

Cite this Entry

“Propulsion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propulsion. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

propulsion

noun
pro·​pul·​sion prə-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce propulsion (audio)
1
: the action or process of propelling
2
: something that propels
propulsive
-ˈpəl-siv
adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on propulsion

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!