• synonyms


  1. an apparatus consisting of a rotating wheel so mounted that its axis can turn freely in certain or all directions, and capable of maintaining the same absolute direction in space in spite of movements of the mountings and surrounding parts: used to maintain equilibrium, determine direction, etc.
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Origin of gyroscope

From French, dating back to 1855–60; see origin at gyro-, -scope
Also called gyro.
Related formsgy·ro·scop·ic [jahy-ruh-skop-ik] /ˌdʒaɪ rəˈskɒp ɪk/, adjectivegy·ro·scop·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gyroscopic

Historical Examples

  • The gyroscopic mechanism had broken from its fastenings and rolled forward.

    The Heads of Apex

    Francis Flagg

  • In front of him was a gyroscopic compass and a row of speaking-tubes.

    The Secret Service Submarine

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

  • Some critics contend that the loss of the boat was due to the gyroscopic action of its turbine engines.

  • The gyroscopic action of a rotary engine will affect the longitudinal stability when an aeroplane is turned to right or left.

  • It was quite time that we had in English a standard treatise on gyroscopic motion.

British Dictionary definitions for gyroscopic



  1. a device containing a disc rotating on an axis that can turn freely in any direction so that the disc resists the action of an applied couple and tends to maintain the same orientation in space irrespective of the movement of the surrounding structureSometimes shortened to: gyro
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Derived Formsgyroscopic (ˌdʒaɪrəˈskɒpɪk), adjectivegyroscopically, adverbgyroscopics, noun
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 gyroscopic


1871, from gyroscope + -ic. Related: Gyroscopically.

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heavy rotating wheel with an axis free to turn in any direction, 1856, invented and named in French 1852 by Foucault, from Greek gyros "circle" (see gyre) + skopos "watcher" (see scope (n.1)), because the device demonstrates that the earth rotates.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gyroscopic in Science


  1. An instrument consisting of a heavy disk or wheel spun rapidly about an axis like a top. The angular momentum of the disk causes it to resist changes in the direction of its axis of rotation, due to the principle of conservation of angular momentum. Because of the gyroscope's tendency to remain oriented in one direction, it is used as a stabilizing device in missiles, as well as in the navigation and piloting systems of airplanes, ships, rockets, and other vehicles.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.