• synonyms


[pruh-pel-uh nt]
See more synonyms for propellant on Thesaurus.com
  1. a propelling agent.
  2. the charge of explosive used to propel the projectile from a gun.
  3. a substance, usually a mixture of fuel and oxidizer, for propelling a rocket.
  4. a compressed inert gas that serves to dispense the contents of an aerosol container when the pressure is released.
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Origin of propellant

First recorded in 1915–20; propel + -ant
Related formsmul·ti·pro·pel·lant, noun
Can be confusedpropellant propellent
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for propellant

Historical Examples

  • Some jerk has redesigned the primer so that the flame misses the propellant!

    Hanging by a Thread

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Its final fall was due to the introduction of gunpowder as a propellant.

  • The suit had been torn in the fall, and some propellant had gotten in through the rents.

    The Scarlet Lake Mystery

    Harold Leland Goodwin

  • The propellant was taking the rocket almost out of sight when the fuse fired it.

    Cue for Quiet

    Thomas L. Sherred

  • Compressed air was the propellant for the Zalinski dynamite gun.

British Dictionary definitions for propellant



  1. something that provides or causes propulsion, such as the explosive charge in a gun or the fuel in a rocket
  2. the gas used to carry the liquid droplets in an aerosol spray
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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 propellant


less-etymological, but more usual, spelling of propellent; 1881 as a firearm explosive; 1919 as "fuel for a rocket engine."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper