Definition of pulley in English:



  • 1A wheel with a grooved rim around which a cord passes, which acts to change the direction of a force applied to the cord and is used to raise heavy weights.

    • ‘There are two large weights hung from pulleys behind the clock.’
    • ‘After having reached a level of 1,000 feet, the expedition was compelled to abandon its elephants, throw away its baggage and climb further by means of cords and pulleys.’
    • ‘Using a low pulley, Arnold raised one arm out to the side, knuckles up, to shoulder height and squeezed.’
    • ‘Little boardwalks lead down to the jetties and a complex set up of ropes and pulleys for setting and raising the nets.’
    • ‘Any flat bench with a pulley or cord system will work.’
    • ‘All four cables entered the beam and passed over pulleys near the lower beam cap.’
    • ‘When I finally rise from my pit of non-slumber, I am extraordinarily positive - despite aching in every limb and feeling like my eyelids are being forced down by lead-weighted pulleys.’
    • ‘We come across bright ideas in books, like over-length lines passed through pulleys under floats and the excess taken up by counter-balancing weights.’
    • ‘At that end, a set of automated pulleys raise and lower noose-like weights onto the end of the veil, which hold the air in for the final part of the sequence, creating a large whale-like shape.’
    • ‘One crew-diver controlled its height using a line that passed through a pulley fixed to the seabed and another at the vessel's stern.’
    • ‘The capillary-support pressure measuring device was placed between the heel and a sling that was connected by a rope to a ceiling-mounted pulley to raise the heel.’
    • ‘Prior to World War II, the sash (the parts that move) was counterweighted by a temperamental arrangement of cords, pulleys and iron weights.’
    • ‘The Vasa Trainer operates on a sled that rolls on a track and comes equipped with all sorts of cords, straps, pulleys and a slew of accessories.’
    • ‘It turned out to be a spare pulley used for lifting heavy equipment.’
    • ‘There was a rope as thick as my arm strung across the river, running through a heavy pulley on the barge.’
    • ‘He described a two-dimensional triangular system of pulleys with weights called a Varignon Frame.’
    • ‘You'll have to make those parts yourself, and replace the existing steel cable with appropriate cord on the constant force spring pulley.’
    • ‘The dropping weights, connected to the paddlewheel by the cord through pulleys, caused the paddles to churn the water - like an old-fashioned ice cream maker stirring its custard.’
    • ‘A string was pulled through the hole made by the needle and the string was drawn through a pulley so that weights could be attached to the end of the string.’
    • ‘Machines and engines, pulleys and wheels, and the idea that power could be harnessed by man-made devices made the toilsome labor of the past nearly obsolete.’
    lifting gear, crane, winch, tackle, block and tackle, windlass, davit, derrick
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    1. 1.1 A wheel or drum fixed on a shaft and turned by a belt, used for the application or transmission of power.
      • ‘There are V-belt constructions made up of sections that lock together, allowing you to wrap the belt around a trapped pulley and join the two ends.’
      • ‘Standard belt lengths between pulleys: 132 to 500 mm; widths between 10 and 200 mm.’
      • ‘Something else you don't do - you don't clear sap buildup from between a pulley and belt when the conveyor is running.’
      • ‘The roar of the engine powering the pulley was like music to my ears as I was slowly but steadily going up again.’
      • ‘Incorrect pulley settings, loose fan belts, or incorrect motor speeds can all contribute to poor performance.’
      system of pulleys, hoisting gear, hoist, block and tackle, crane, winch, davit, windlass, sheave
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[with object]
  • Hoist with a pulley.

    ‘the tree house was built on the ground and pulleyed into the branches’
    • ‘It was being pulleyed by several cords of thick rope overhead.’
    • ‘It's like being on a boat, sleeping on the bus, waking, buying a lift ticket, being pulleyed up the mountain, the payoff, the floating dance of linked telemark turns.’


Middle English: from Old French polie, probably from a medieval Greek diminutive of polos ‘pivot, axis’.