the act or process of pumping or the action of a pump.
Meteorology. rapid change in the height of the column in a mercury barometer, resulting from fluctuations in the surrounding air pressure.

Origin of pumping

First recorded in 1590–1600; pump1 + -ing1




an apparatus or machine for raising, driving, exhausting, or compressing fluids or gases by means of a piston, plunger, or set of rotating vanes.
Engineering, Building Trades. a shore having a jackscrew in its foot for adjusting the length or for bearing more firmly against the structure to be sustained.
Biology. an animal organ that propels fluid through the body; heart.
Cell Biology. a system that supplies energy for transport against a chemical gradient, as the sodium pump for the transfer of sodium and potassium ions across a cell membrane.

verb (used with object)

to raise, drive, etc., with a pump.
to free from water or other liquid by means of a pump.
to inflate by pumping (often followed by up): to pump a tire up.
to operate or move by an up-and-down or back-and-forth action.
to supply with air, as an organ, by means of a pumplike device.
to drive, force, etc., as if from a pump: He rapidly pumped a dozen shots into the bull's-eye.
to supply or inject as if by using a pump: to pump money into a failing business.
to question artfully or persistently to elicit information: to pump someone for confidential information.
to elicit (information) by questioning.

verb (used without object)

to work a pump; raise or move water, oil, etc., with a pump.
to operate as a pump does.
to move up and down like a pump handle.
to exert oneself in a manner likened to pumping: He pumped away at his homework all evening.
to seek to elicit information from a person.
to come out in spurts.

Verb Phrases

pump up,
  1. to inflate.
  2. to increase, heighten, or strengthen; put more effort into or emphasis on; intensify: The store has decided to pump up its advertising.
  3. to infuse with enthusiasm, competitive spirit, energy, etc.: The contestants were all backstage pumping themselves up for their big moment.

Origin of pump

1400–50; late Middle English pumpe (noun); cognate with German Pumpe, Dutch pomp
Related formspump·a·ble, adjectivepump·less, adjectivepump·like, adjectiveun·pump·a·ble, adjectiveun·pumped, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pumping

Contemporary Examples of pumping

Historical Examples of pumping

  • I am of opinion that pumping a leaky ship is the most detestable work in the world.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Two hours' pumping in every four is no joke—but it kept her afloat as far as Falmouth.


    Joseph Conrad

  • That boundless wealth of good intentions is a well no pumping can exhaust.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • He floated easily, pumping the air far back into his big lungs.

    Dwellers in the Hills

    Melville Davisson Post

  • The two rascals were expert at pumping the little half-breed.

British Dictionary definitions for pumping




any device for compressing, driving, raising, or reducing the pressure of a fluid, esp by means of a piston or set of rotating impellers
biology a mechanism for the active transport of ions, such as protons, calcium ions, and sodium ions, across cell membranesa sodium pump


(when tr, usually foll by from, out, into, away, etc) to raise or drive (air, liquid, etc, esp into or from something) with a pump or similar device
(tr; usually foll by in or into) to supply in large amountsto pump capital into a project
(tr) to deliver (shots, bullets, etc) repeatedly with great force
to operate (something, esp a handle or lever) in the manner of a pump or (of something) to work in this wayto pump the pedals of a bicycle
(tr) to obtain (information) from (a person) by persistent questioning
(intr; usually foll by from or out of) (of liquids) to flow freely in large spurtsoil pumped from the fissure

Word Origin for pump

C15: from Middle Dutch pumpe pipe, probably from Spanish bomba, of imitative origin




a low-cut low-heeled shoe without fastenings, worn esp for dancing
a type of shoe with a rubber sole, used in games such as tennis; plimsoll

Word Origin for pump

C16: of unknown origin
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 pumping



"apparatus for forcing liquid or air," early 15c., of uncertain origin, possibly from Middle Dutch pompe "water conduit, pipe," or Middle Low German pumpe "pump" (Modern German Pumpe), both from some North Sea sailors' word, possibly of imitative origin.



"low shoe without fasteners," 1550s, of unknown origin, perhaps echoic of the sound made when walking in them, or perhaps from Dutch pampoesje, from Javanese pampoes, of Arabic origin. Klein's sources propose a connection with pomp (n.). Related: pumps.



c.1500, from pump (n.1). Metaphoric extension in pump (someone) for information is from 1630s. To pump iron "lift weights for fitness" is from 1972. Related: Pumped; pumping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pumping in Medicine




A machine or device for raising, compressing, or transferring fluids.
A molecular mechanism for the active transport of ions or molecules across a cell membrane.


To raise or cause to flow by means of a pump.
To transport ions or molecules against a concentration gradient by the expenditure of chemically stored energy.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

pumping in Science



A device used to raise or transfer fluids. Most pumps function either by compression or suction.
A molecular mechanism for the active transport of ions or molecules across a cell membrane.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.