escape velocity

noun Physics, Rocketry.
the minimum speed that an object at a given distance from a gravitating body must have so that it will continue to move away from the body instead of orbiting about it.

1950–55 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
escape velocity
the minimum velocity that a body must have in order to escape from the gravitational field of the earth or other celestial body

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
escape velocity   (ĭ-skāp')  Pronunciation Key 
The velocity needed for a celestial body to overcome the gravitational pull of another, larger body and not fall back to that body's surface. Escape velocity is determined by the mass of the larger body and by the distance of the smaller body from the larger one's center. Depending on its initial trajectory, a smaller body traveling at the escape velocity will either enter a periodic orbit around the larger body or recede from the surface of the larger body indefinitely. The escape velocity at the Earth's surface is about 11.2 kilometers per second (25,000 miles per hour); the escape velocity on the Moon's surface is 2.4 kilometers per second (5,300 miles per hour). The escape velocity within the event horizon of a black hole is higher than the speed of light; since nothing can exceed the speed of light, nothing—even light—can escape from within the event horizon of a black hole.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

escape velocity definition

The speed an object must reach to escape the pull of gravitation exerted by another object.

Note: To overcome the gravitation of the Earth and place an artificial satellite in orbit, a rocket must reach a speed of about 25,000 miles per hour, or about seven miles per second.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Give our picks a spin, then let us know if you have a favorite release
  perfectly suited for escape velocity.
His admission of ignorance reflects genuine puzzlement with the economy's
  failure to reach what he likes to call escape velocity.
Forget escape velocity, that's not even stall speed.
The gap between the rich and the poor has been growing wider for some time, but
  the really rich have now achieved escape velocity.
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