pul·​ley ˈpu̇-lē How to pronounce pulley (audio)
plural pulleys
: a sheave or small wheel with a grooved rim and with or without the block in which it runs used singly with a rope or chain to change the direction and point of application of a pulling force and in various combinations to increase the applied force especially for lifting weights
: a pulley or pulleys with ropes to form a tackle that constitutes one of the simple machines
: a wheel used to transmit power by means of a band, belt, cord, rope, or chain passing over its rim

Illustration of pulley

Illustration of pulley
  • pulley 2

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Chrome engine tins and pulleys add to the shine, as does a ceramic-coated Tri-Mil dual exhaust system. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, 27 May 2023 Jamie modified the sconces found on Etsy with a light-lowering pulley system so they could be hung high enough to avoid carving electrical outlets into the original logs. Rhonda Reinhart, Country Living, 17 May 2023 Her work — complex installations of ladders, lamps, fans, clamps, potted plants, videos, photographs, torn paper, masking tape, pulleys and string, wire and wooden scaffolds — also spills into some of the building’s other spaces. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 14 Apr. 2023 Look for a high-quality ceiling-mount hoist rack or get crafty and create your own DIY pulley system to retrieve the high-up bikes. Mary Cornetta, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Mar. 2023 To move the heavier items, the Trash Bashers rigged up a wheelbarrow, without the wheels, and connected it to a pulley. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 11 June 2021 Tie one end of the parachute cord to the pulley. Jim Baird, Field & Stream, 21 Oct. 2020 There's a new supercharger with a larger throttle body and a pulley that increases boost pressure by 40 percent compared to the Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 21 Mar. 2023 Chon connects resistance bands to the shorts, fastening the other ends to a pulley. Kristine Thomason, Men's Health, 20 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English poley, pully, from Anglo-French pulie, probably ultimately from Greek polos axis, pole — more at pole

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pulley was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pulley

Cite this Entry

“Pulley.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pulley. Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


pul·​ley ˈpu̇l-ē How to pronounce pulley (audio)
plural pulleys
: a small wheel with a grooved rim used with a rope or chain to change the direction of a pulling force and in combination to increase the force applied for lifting

Medical Definition


pul·​ley ˈpu̇l-ē How to pronounce pulley (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on pulley

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