Definition of pneumatic in US English:



  • 1Containing or operated by air or gas under pressure.

    ‘the machines with pneumatic loading are more efficient’
    • ‘The pneumatic pump operated the mechanical heart and sustained Clark for 112 days.’
    • ‘Any pressurized bottle used for pneumatic operation must be filled with compressed air, nitrogen, or CO2.’
    • ‘The fundamental transformation uses electrical power to drive aircraft subsystems currently powered by hydraulic, pneumatic, or mechanical means.’
    • ‘Pre-charged pneumatic rifles are currently enjoying a huge wave of popularity among the general shooting population.’
    • ‘Later he earned a drive-through penalty before retiring after a problem with his engine's pneumatic pressure.’
    • ‘In a procedure which began at seven o'clock in the morning and which lasted for a little under four hours, the 1,000 metric tonne roof was raised from inside the storage tank's structure using pneumatic pressure.’
    • ‘He said his problem was a ‘progressive loss of air pressure in the pneumatic system.’’
    • ‘Manure can be transferred to storage by gravity, piston pump, pneumatic pump, or centrifugal pump.’
    • ‘The use of hydraulic and pneumatic tools is also taught along with welding and thermal arc-cutting gear for underwater work.’
    • ‘Some of the dust was created by the operation of a pneumatic hammer in the defenders' workshop.’
    • ‘David had to retire from the race with seven laps to go due to a loss of pneumatic pressure.’
    • ‘All of the tools are either electric or pneumatic.’
    • ‘I carve stone with every tool I can grasp, from hammers and chisels, pneumatic tools, diamond grinders and cutters, even diamond chain saws.’
    • ‘Its eight inch pneumatic tires with 40 to 60 pounds of air pressure can handle most obstacles an off-road trail can offer.’
    • ‘The remaining sections detail the repair and servicing of electrical and radio equipment, the design and construction of the airframe itself, and the particulars of the hydraulic and pneumatic systems.’
    • ‘Adding graduated compression stockings or pneumatic compression to anticoagulant therapy may also benefit patients.’
    • ‘Blown-in loose-fill insulation includes loose fibers or fiber pellets that are blown into building cavities or attics using special pneumatic equipment.’
    • ‘The dual-plate mechanical clutch has a pneumatic booster and three-range five-speed gearbox.’
    • ‘During these measurements, roots were enclosed in a steel chamber to apply pneumatic pressure to the root medium.’
    1. 1.1Zoology (chiefly of cavities in the bones of birds) containing air.
      • ‘Ornithologists have long sought to explain pneumatic bones in birds as an adaptation to some aspect of their lifestyle, such as the great benefit they offer for energy savings in flying.’
      • ‘The bones were hollow and thin-walled, but also pneumatic: that is, they had openings in their walls that allowed air sacs from the respiratory system to enter the bones.’
      • ‘A pneumatic dermal layer is present beneath the skin.’
      • ‘Indeed, at an even earlier ontogenetic stage the vertebrae of the youngest individuals must have lacked any pneumatic features.’
    2. 1.2informal (of a woman) having large breasts.
      ‘a tattoo of a pneumatic girl’
  • 2(chiefly in the context of New Testament theology) relating to the spirit.


usually pneumatics
  • An item of pneumatic equipment.

    ‘as with most conventional pneumatics, you have to cock the bolt and load a pellet into the breech by hand before each shot’
    • ‘At the end I lost time in my final stop as the mechanics topped up my engine's pneumatics, and without that I would easily have beaten him.’
    • ‘A whole new generation of pneumatics pre-charged with high pressure air metered from a scuba bottle or laboriously pumped up by hand are bringing us back to the designs of the 18th and 19th centuries.’
    • ‘As the door slid open on silent pneumatics, Ian entered with a barely subdued look of triumph.’
    • ‘According to New Scientist: ‘Electric motors tend to be too weak, while hydraulics and pneumatics are too heavy for use in robotics or prosthetics.’’
    • ‘With a hiss of pneumatics, the helmet lifted open, revealing a youthful boy's face, his eyes staring into eternity and his mouth wide open from surprise.’
    • ‘Pre-charged pneumatics: These are similar in concept to pump-up pneumatics, but the compressed air is held in large (usually detachable) air bottles filled from a powerful air compressor or scuba tank.’


Early 17th century (in pneumatic (sense 2 of the adjective): from French pneumatique or Latin pneumaticus, from Greek pneumatikos, from pneuma ‘wind’, from pnein ‘breathe’.