verb (used with object), pro·pelled, pro·pel·ling.

to drive, or cause to move, forward or onward: to propel a boat by rowing.
to impel or urge onward: Urgent need of money propelled him to take a job.

Origin of propel

1400–50; late Middle English propellen to expel < Latin prōpellere to drive forward, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + pellere to drive
Related formsun·pro·pelled, adjective

Synonyms for propel

1, 2. push, prod. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for propelled

push, thrust, shoot, drive, send, force, shove, launch, move, actuate, impel, start, press, mobilize

Examples from the Web for propelled

Contemporary Examples of propelled

Historical Examples of propelled

  • It was making straight for the island, propelled by vigorous arms.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • Juve propelled him towards a gangway: a minute later both were on the boat.

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre

  • With a show of exasperation, Arnold propelled him through the door.

  • While she was propelled, many other wheels were turning and turning fast.

    Blue-grass and Broadway

    Maria Thompson Daviess

  • Stacy shot up into the air as if he had been propelled from a bow gun.

British Dictionary definitions for propelled


verb -pels, -pelling or -pelled

(tr) to impel, drive, or cause to move forwards

Word Origin for propel

C15: from Latin prōpellere to drive onwards, from pro- 1 + pellere to drive
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 propelled



mid-15c., "to drive away, expel," from Latin propellere "push forward, drive forward, drive forth; move, impel," from pro- "forward" (see pro-) + pellere "to push, drive" (see pulse (n.1)). Meaning "to drive onward, cause to move forward" is from 1650s. Related: Propelled; propelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper