[sen-trif-yuh-guh l, -uh-guh l]
See more synonyms for centrifugal on Thesaurus.com
  1. Machinery.
    1. a machine for separating different materials by centrifugal force; a centrifuge.
    2. a rotating, perforated drum holding the materials to be separated in such a machine.

Origin of centrifugal

1715–25; < New Latin centrifug(us) center-fleeing (centri- centri- + Latin -fugus, derivative of fugere to flee) + -al1
Related formscen·trif·u·gal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedcentrifugal centripetal
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for centrifugal

deviating, divergent, eccentric, outward, radial, spiral, diffusive, efferent

Examples from the Web for centrifugal

Contemporary Examples of centrifugal

  • War can be a centrifugal force, pulling together disparate groups who share a common enemy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    ISIS’s Secret Allies

    Jacob Siegel

    June 13, 2014

Historical Examples of centrifugal

  • My talent—if that's what you call it—was centrifugal, not centripetal.

  • Here the centrifugal gravity was less than it had been in the hold.

    In the Orbit of Saturn

    Roman Frederick Starzl

  • That was because if there were no inertia there would be no centrifugal force.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

  • The heavier things are, the harder they are thrown out by centrifugal force.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

  • It is centrifugal force that makes you slide away from the center and off at the edge.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

British Dictionary definitions for centrifugal


  1. acting, moving, or tending to move away from a centreCompare centripetal
  2. of, concerned with, or operated by centrifugal forcecentrifugal pump
  3. botany (esp of certain inflorescences) developing outwards from a centre
  4. physiol another word for efferent
  1. any device that uses centrifugal force for its action
  2. the rotating perforated drum in a centrifuge
Derived Formscentrifugally, adverb

Word Origin for centrifugal

C18: from New Latin centrifugus, from centri- + Latin fugere to flee
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

Word Origin and History for centrifugal

1690s, with adjectival suffix -al (1) + Modern Latin centrifugus, 1687, coined by Sir Isaac Newton (who wrote in Latin) in "Principia" (which is written in Latin), from Latin centri- alternative comb. form of centrum "center" (see center (n.)) + fugere "to flee" (see fugitive). Centrifugal force is Newton's vis centrifuga.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

centrifugal in Medicine


[sĕn-trĭfyə-gəl, -trĭfə-]
  1. Moving or directed away from a center or axis.
  2. Transmitting nerve impulses away from the central nervous system; efferent.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

centrifugal in Science


[sĕn-trĭfyə-gəl, -trĭfə-]
  1. Moving or directed away from a center or axis, usually as a result of being spun around the center or axis.
  2. Operated in the manner of a centrifuge.
  3. Transmitting nerve impulses away from the brain or spinal cord; efferent.
  4. Developing or progressing outward from a center or axis, as in the growth of plant structures. For example, in a centrifugal inflorescence such as a cyme, the flowers in the center or tip open first while those on the edge open last. Compare centripetal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.