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 Freedom-class littoral combat ships use two Colt Pielstick engines for everyday propulsion, but also run a pair of Rolls-Royce MT 30 gas turbines for high speed sprinting. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Two Years After Breakdown, This Littoral Combat Ship is Back in the Fleet," 18 Dec. 2018 The team sailed along the shore, feverishly pedaling the pair of bikes hanging off the stern for extra propulsion. Alexa Philippou, The Seattle Times, "Sail like a girl: How an all-female team made history and won the 750-mile Race to Alaska," 14 July 2018 It can be lowered and raised from a surface support platform, but has no dedicated propulsion system. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "That Time the U.S. Navy Sank a Fake, Yellow, North Korean Submarine," 6 Feb. 2019 The Clarity will disengage the engine and operate on battery power alone, letting the propulsion motor drive the wheels. Eric Adams, WIRED, "The Crazy, Complicated Engineering Inside Honda's New Clarity Hybrid," 27 Apr. 2018 This is primarily because electric propulsion is simpler, more reliable, and more precisely controllable than combustion engines. Eric Adams, WIRED, "Four Reasons We Don’t Have Flying Cars—Yet," 15 June 2018 Initially, Russia tossed out estimates of speeds up to 115 mph, but this is incredibly fast for an underwater vehicle—about twice the speed of any U.S. torpedo—and barely credible even with nuclear propulsion. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Truth Behind Russia’s 'Apocalypse Torpedo'," 18 Jan. 2019 The new, fully modern submarines were designed with air independent propulsion, allowing them to stay underwater longer than other diesel electric submarines. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Spain’s Newest Submarine is Too Big For Port," 19 July 2018 The problem is with the powertrain, which doesn't seem to know how to balance power from the motor with propulsion from the engine. Robert Duffer,, "Kia Niro hybrid falters on transmission," 7 June 2017

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

21 Mar 2019

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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

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

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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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