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[pruh-pel] /prəˈpɛl/
verb (used with object), propelled, propelling.
to drive, or cause to move, forward or onward:
to propel a boat by rowing.
to impel or urge onward:
Urgent need of money propelled him to take a job.
Origin of propel
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English propellen to expel < Latin prōpellere to drive forward, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + pellere to drive
Related forms
unpropelled, adjective
1, 2. push, prod. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for propel
  • New levels of philanthropic investments can propel them beyond the subsistence support that has been far too customary.
  • The saucer will hover and propel itself using electrodes that cover its surface to ionize the surrounding air into plasma.
  • Laborers pushed vertical winches to propel elevators that carried animal cages up to the arena.
  • Once ignited, combustion would propel the torpedo to its target, where it might explode.
  • Their duty is to propel as well as regulate the desired immersion.
  • But it, too, helps propel the genes of the successful into future generations.
  • Solar sails use photons from the sun to propel spacecraft at high speeds.
  • Recapture energy typically lost as heat during braking and use it to propel the vehicle.
  • It then hops to its destination by directing some of the gas to sideways-facing thrusters, to propel itself backwards or forwards.
  • These swirling vortices carry enough momentum to propel the insect at high speed.
British Dictionary definitions for propel


verb -pels, -pelling, -pelled
(transitive) to impel, drive, or cause to move forwards
Word Origin
C15: from Latin prōpellere to drive onwards, from pro-1 + pellere to drive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for propel

mid-15c., "to drive away, expel," from Latin propellere "push forward, drive forward, drive forth; move, impel," from pro- "forward" (see pro-) + pellere "to push, drive" (see pulse (n.1)). Meaning "to drive onward, cause to move forward" is from 1650s. Related: Propelled; propelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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