pul·​ley | \ ˈpu̇-lē How to pronounce pulley (audio) \
plural pulleys

Definition of pulley

1 : 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
2 : a pulley or pulleys with ropes to form a tackle that constitutes one of the simple machines
3 : 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

Examples of pulley in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Lifelike controls include an impact feedback system from a mixed belt-pulley system and metal ball-bearing axle. Sian Babish, chicagotribune.com, "The best racing wheel," 12 Dec. 2020 The cable pulley system means there are no weights to move around but also that your movement is especially fixed throughout your workout. Hanna Horvath, NBC News, "Best home gyms and home gym systems, according to experts," 10 Dec. 2020 An industrial heater was used to melt ice away from the fan before the makeshift pulley system hauled it out to surface level. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "How investigators found a jet engine under Greenland's ice sheet," 14 Oct. 2020 Two juveniles who discovered the victim called 911 and assisted firefighters with a rope and pulley system to get the victim down to a Fire Department boat and then to paramedics waiting at the University of Minnesota boat launch. Star Tribune, "Firefighters, good Samaritans rescue fall victim from Mississippi bluff," 7 Oct. 2020 Customize your workout with the machine’s multiple cable pulley positions, then use the leg attachment for lower body toning. Popsci Commerce Team, Popular Science, "Full-body workout machines for the best fitness results," 23 Sep. 2020 By repositioning the wheel on the face of the pulley, the machine will speed up or slow down—closer to the center for slower, close to the outside edge for faster. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Snowblowers for Digging Yourself Out," 9 Sep. 2020 The pulley system was supported by a structure of wooden barbecue skewers. Daniela Hernandez, WSJ, "How to Do Scientific Field Work When You Can’t Get to the Right Field," 3 Sep. 2020 Ladies’ watches, some with clock faces visible, others locketed away, a few on pulleys that allowed easy consulting, quick return. Allan Gurganus, The New Yorker, "The Wish for a Good Young Country Doctor," 27 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pulley.' 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 pulley

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pulley

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

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Time Traveler for pulley

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pulley

Last Updated

17 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pulley.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pulley. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for pulley


How to pronounce pulley (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pulley

: a wheel or set of wheels that is used with a rope, chain, etc., to lift or lower heavy objects


pul·​ley | \ ˈpu̇-lē How to pronounce pulley (audio) \
plural pulleys

Kids Definition of pulley

: a wheel over which a belt, rope, or chain is pulled to lift or lower a heavy object


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

Medical Definition of pulley

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More from Merriam-Webster on pulley

Nglish: Translation of pulley for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pulley for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pulley

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