Definition of propel in English:



  • 1 Drive or push something forwards.

    ‘the boat is propelled by using a very long paddle’
    [as adjectivein combination] ‘a rocket-propelled grenade launcher’
    • ‘I use the last amount of my remaining strength to propel myself upward.’
    • ‘If you were so inspired, you could actually learn to work the big red wheels in the proper manner to propel you forward.’
    • ‘A magnetic force propelled me forward, then flung me through the steel door.’
    • ‘The wave can also propel solid projectiles, such as cannonballs.’
    • ‘Their leathery wings beat against the blackness in steady flaps, propelling them forward.’
    • ‘But he found he could propel himself forward by pushing off against the sides with his feet.’
    • ‘One U.S. team propelled a spacecraft to 68,000 feet, or about 13 miles.’
    • ‘And you'll get the added boost of an extra body propelling the boat forward.’
    • ‘He takes a seat directly behind, and as the bus lurches off, propelling us forward in our seats, he closes his eyes, just for a millisecond longer than strictly required.’
    • ‘An intricate system of magnetic fields propelled the craft along and away from Earth.’
    • ‘As the dimple moves, it acts like an oar, pushing against the surrounding water and creating a force that propels the spider forward.’
    • ‘Solar sails will use the sun's energy to propel spacecraft across the cosmos.’
    • ‘Use your arms to help propel you upward and to control the movement.’
    • ‘As the body continues to move forward over the new stance foot, that leg extends to provide extra thrust, which propels the body forward into the next step.’
    • ‘A stroke consists of four components that have to be completed perfectly to propel the boat forward as fast as possible.’
    • ‘She propels my quivering body forward with her arm that's on my shoulder.’
    • ‘Placing advertising material on a mechanically propelled vehicle is also an offence.’
    • ‘The propeller or the jet engine of an aircraft pushes air backwards to propel the aircraft forward.’
    • ‘As such, they don't propel the craft through the water very well!’
    • ‘And as the bends move back, they push against the ground, propelling the snake forward.’
    move forwards, push forwards, move, set in motion, get moving, drive
    throw, thrust, toss, fling, hurl, lob, let fly, launch, pitch, project, send, shoot
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    1. 1.1[with object and adverbial of direction]Spur or drive into a particular situation.
      ‘fear propelled her out of her stillness’
      • ‘It's this sort of oceanic sonic force that propels the film to its conclusion.’
      • ‘Do not let fear of error or retribution propel you into a medical appointment or a dangerous situation.’
      • ‘He established himself as the champion of the working people and that helped propel him to the presidency.’
      • ‘These were ordinary people who were propelled into an extraordinary situation.’
      • ‘A death happens - and we are propelled in a direction that we couldn't have imagined.’
      spur, drive, prompt, precipitate, catapult, motivate, force, impel
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Late Middle English (in the sense ‘expel, drive out’): from Latin propellere, from pro- forward + pellere to drive.