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[sen-trip-i-tl] /sɛnˈtrɪp ɪ tl/
directed toward the center (opposed to centrifugal).
operating by centripetal force.
Physiology. afferent.
Origin of centripetal
1700-10; < New Latin centripet(us) center-seeking (centri- centri- + -petus, derivative of Latin petere to seek) + -al1
Related forms
centripetalism, noun
centripetally, adverb
uncentripetal, adjective
Can be confused
centrifugal, centripetal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for centripetal


/sɛnˈtrɪpɪtəl; ˈsɛntrɪˌpiːtəl/
acting, moving, or tending to move towards a centre Compare centrifugal
of, concerned with, or operated by centripetal force
(botany) (esp of certain inflorescences) developing from the outside towards the centre
(physiol) another word for afferent
Derived Forms
centripetally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin centripetus seeking the centre; see centri-, -petal
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 centripetal

1709, from Modern Latin, coined 1687 by Sir Isaac Newton (who wrote in Latin), from Latin centri- alternative comb. form of centrum "center" (see center (n.)) + petere "to make for, go to; seek, strive after" (see petition (n.)). Centripetal force is Newton's vim ... centripetam.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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centripetal in Medicine

centripetal cen·trip·e·tal (sěn-trĭp'ĭ-tl)

  1. Moving or directed toward a center or axis.

  2. Transmitting nerve impulses toward the central nervous system; afferent.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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centripetal in Science
  1. Moving or directed toward a center or axis, particularly one around which an object is spinning.

  2. Transmitting nerve impulses toward the brain or spinal cord; afferent.

  3. Developing or progressing inward toward a center or axis, as in the growth of plant structures. For example, in the disk of the inflorescence of a sunflower, the florets near the edge open first, and the ones in the center last. Compare centrifugal.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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