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

After practicing self-arrest techniques with an ice axe on steep, icy slopes, they’re taught to use a three-to-one (or sometimes a five-to-one) pulley system for rescuing each other from any hidden crevasses along the way. Scott Yorko, Popular Mechanics, "Back to Alaska: How a Legendary Glacier Adventure Almost Died When the World Needed It Most," 12 Sep. 2018 Thus, the Cold War ended, not with a bang but with the sound of a halliard rattling through a pulley over the Kremlin on a cool night in December 1991 as the flag of the Soviet Union was lowered for the very last time. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Jim Baker's Eulogy for His Close Friend, George H.W. Bush," 6 Dec. 2018 Prior to the early 2000s, the elevator was operated with a metal pulley system. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Playwright Edward Albee’s Manhattan Loft Hits Market for Almost $9 Million," 27 Nov. 2018 Guides also can help people climb with a pulley system. Nicole Tsong, The Seattle Times, "Are you up for a new adventure? As in, 200 feet up a Douglas fir?," 8 Aug. 2018 Consisting of ropes, pulleys, blocks, and counterweights, the rigging system enables stage crews to deploy the technical components of a production. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, "Construction mishap at Colonial could delay ‘Moulin Rouge!’," 12 June 2018 Join rope ends in a sheet bend between the flag clips to stop the rope knot from snagging in the pulley. Harry Sawyers, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Flagpole," 28 May 2010 But that will take volunteers who will manage the scope and, most importantly, work the pulleys and ropes required to rotate the observatory’s dome. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Now That the Smog Has Lifted, Astronomy Returns to London’s Royal Observatory," 28 June 2018 Place food in a tray, and the coatimundi will pull it up with a rope and pulley. Vincent Crampton, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Explore Florida's Hernando County: This roadside attraction is alive and kicking," 6 May 2018

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

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pulley

Spanish Central: Translation of pulley

Nglish: Translation of pulley for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pulley for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pulley

Comments on pulley

What made you want to look up pulley? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of returning to life

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