Definition of centripetal in English:


Pronunciation /ˌsɛntrɪˈpiːt(ə)l//sɛnˈtrɪpɪt(ə)l/


  • Moving or tending to move towards a centre.

    The opposite of centrifugal
    • ‘But as soon as they are seen from any distance, they erupt into pulsing centripetal and centrifugal vortices.’
    • ‘The pattern of differentiation could thus be visualized as a centripetal wave moving inward from a ring of already differentiated cells.’
    • ‘The centripetal acceleration of this system rapidly became very high.’
    • ‘The competing forces of gravity at the lower end and outward centripetal acceleration at the farther end keep the cable under tension.’
    • ‘This is how fast the Earth would need to rotate to get centripetal acceleration at the equator equal to 9.81 m/s.’


Early 18th century: from modern Latin centripetus, from Latin centrum (see centre) + -petus ‘seeking’ (from petere ‘seek’).