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Origin of centripetal

1700–10; < New Latin centripet(us) center-seeking (centri- centri- + -petus, derivative of Latin petere to seek) + -al1
Related formscen·trip·e·tal·ism, nouncen·trip·e·tal·ly, adverbun·cen·trip·e·tal, adjective
Can be confusedcentrifugal centripetal
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for centripetal

centripetal, integrable

Examples from the Web for centripetal

Contemporary Examples of centripetal

Historical Examples of centripetal

British Dictionary definitions for centripetal


  1. acting, moving, or tending to move towards a centreCompare centrifugal
  2. of, concerned with, or operated by centripetal force
  3. botany (esp of certain inflorescences) developing from the outside towards the centre
  4. physiol another word for afferent
Derived Formscentripetally, adverb

Word Origin for centripetal

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

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

centripetal in Medicine


  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.

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.