rel·​a·​tiv·​is·​tic ˌre-lə-ti-ˈvi-stik How to pronounce relativistic (audio)
: of, relating to, or characterized by relativity or relativism
: moving at a velocity such that there is a significant change in properties (such as mass) in accordance with the theory of relativity
a relativistic electron
relativistically adverb

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web No one had successfully modeled how a viscous fluid would act at relativistic speeds, but working with colleagues in the Vanderbilt physics department, Disconzi successfully did it. Yvette Cendes, Discover Magazine, 20 Mar. 2019 According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravitational waves should experience no dispersion at all—and any deviation from that prediction would suggest Einstein’s relativistic reckoning of the universe is somehow incorrect, potentially pointing the way to new breakthroughs in physics. Lee Billings, Scientific American, 1 June 2017 The proton is a collection of quarks and gluons moving at relativistic speeds around a central point. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 3 Apr. 2023 These are called relativistic jets, and they're made of superheated plasma ejected from the accretion disk. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 5 Apr. 2019 By tearing open large swaths of crust near the magnetar’s poles, where its magnetic field lines splay out into space, a large quake could instantaneously disgorge vast volumes of plasma, sending electrons and positrons rocketing into space at relativistic speeds, approaching that of light. Joshua Sokol, Science | AAAS, 8 Apr. 2021 The final alternative is a relativistic shock, which could occur if the magnetar burped out some material that was accelerated by the magnetic fields to extremely high speeds, then ran into the plasma near the object, with the ensuing shock causing the FRB. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 4 Nov. 2020 To really nail down this relativistic effect, NASA launched its Gravity Probe A rocket in 1976. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, 26 Feb. 2015 But Einstein’s theories turned Newton’s absolute space and time into a relativistic mash-up — his equations suggested a merged spacetime, a new sort of arena in which the players altered the space of the playing field. Tom Siegfried, Discover Magazine, 6 May 2019 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of relativistic was in 1886

Dictionary Entries Near relativistic

Cite this Entry

“Relativistic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


rel·​a·​tiv·​is·​tic ˌrel-ət-iv-ˈis-tik How to pronounce relativistic (audio)
: of, relating to, or characterized by relativity
relativistically adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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