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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 propelling
  • Notice the jets of water propelling the squid through the air.
  • They were accomplished swimmers, propelling themselves by jetting water through their body cavity.
  • These otters swim by propelling themselves with their powerful tails and flexing their long bodies.
  • These huge members of the weasel family swim by propelling themselves with their powerful tails and flexing their long bodies.
  • The small explosion that results pushes the piston down, turning the crankshaft and propelling the car.
  • He's down in limbo land when all the other kicks happen, propelling his comrades out of the dream worlds.
  • The biggest factor propelling change may be the speed of technology.
  • The duration of the propelling period is shorter than the duration of either the first withdrawing or the second withdrawing.
  • There is hereby imposed a use tax on each gallon of aviation fuel used in propelling aircraft with reciprocating engines.
British Dictionary definitions for propelling


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 propelling



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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