tra·​jec·​to·​ry | \ trə-ˈjek-t(ə-)rē How to pronounce trajectory (audio) \
plural trajectories

Definition of trajectory

1 : the curve that a body (such as a planet or comet in its orbit or a rocket) describes in space
2 : a path, progression, or line of development resembling a physical trajectory an upward career trajectory

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Did You Know?

Formed with part of the prefix trans-, "across", trajectory means a "hurling across". By calculating the effect of gravity and other forces, the trajectory of an object launched into space at a known speed can be computed precisely. Missiles stand a chance of hitting their target only if their trajectory has been plotted accurately. The word is used most often in physics and engineering, but not always; we can also say, for example, that the trajectory of a whole life may be set in a person's youth, or that a new book traces the long trajectory of the French empire.

Examples of trajectory in a Sentence

the trajectory of the missile
Recent Examples on the Web The models predict the trajectory of the pandemic using data available through March 27, but the outlook has improved since then. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "Experts predict steep drop in coronavirus infections by July through vaccinations, masks and social distancing," 5 May 2021 Jordan has many skill sets as a player that will add to the trajectory of our team on the court. Hannah Underwood, Dallas News, "Texas A&M men’s basketball inks St. Joseph’s transfer Jordan Hall," 4 May 2021 But this also is a sensual, smart, show very much for we tennis fans — the trajectory of the game forms the basis of the play. Chris Jones,, "Review: In ‘Last Match’ from Writers Theatre, a U.S. tennis champion fears getting older," 4 May 2021 Since then, dozens of higher education institutions have jumped on the bandwagon, demonstrating the trajectory of vaccine requirements. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, "More than 100 US colleges and universities are now requiring students to get Covid-19 vaccinations," 29 Apr. 2021 Without a doubt, her driver’s license changed the trajectory of my life. Kim Keenan, Essence, "President Biden, Make Sure Women Have the Internet," 29 Apr. 2021 Popper talked about Herbert’s rookie season, his development and the trajectory of the Chargers’ franchise. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Oregon’s Penei Sewell is the lone player the Chargers might move up to get in NFL Draft," 28 Apr. 2021 Johnson and Morell also discuss the overall trajectory of U.S.-China relations in the coming years and decades. CBS News, "China expert Chris Johnson on Biden administration's approach to Beijing - on "Intelligence Matters"," 28 Apr. 2021 This is why having a laser focus in one industry, for one specific type of talent can accelerate the growth trajectory of a city. Cathy Hackl, Forbes, "The City Of The Future: Walkable, Mid-Sized And Built For Flexible Work," 28 Apr. 2021

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

1696, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for trajectory

New Latin trajectoria, from feminine of trajectorius of passing, from Latin traicere to cause to cross, cross, from trans-, tra- trans- + jacere to throw — more at jet

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Time Traveler for trajectory

Time Traveler

The first known use of trajectory was in 1696

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Statistics for trajectory

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trajectory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for trajectory



English Language Learners Definition of trajectory

: the curved path along which something (such as a rocket) moves through the air or through space

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