Definition of centripetal in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌsɛntrɪˈpiːt(ə)l/
Pronunciation: /sɛnˈtrɪpɪt(ə)l/


Moving or tending to move towards a centre. The opposite of centrifugal.
Example sentences
  • But as soon as they are seen from any distance, they erupt into pulsing centripetal and centrifugal vortices.
  • The pattern of differentiation could thus be visualized as a centripetal wave moving inward from a ring of already differentiated cells.
  • This is how fast the Earth would need to rotate to get centripetal acceleration at the equator equal to 9.81 m/s.



Example sentences
  • In the mid-septal zone of Quenstedtiphyllia fritschi, calcification centers are separated, and the septa are built of serially arranged trabeculae that are oriented centripetally.
  • The floral organ differentiation occurs centripetally and is initiated with the differentiation of the abaxial tepal primordium (sepals and petals can not be differentiated), followed by the other tepal primordia.
  • Like rivers, which inevitably flow outward to the sea, power is constantly extended and refracted towards the far reaches of the island rather than cohering centripetally around the monarch.


Early 18th century: from modern Latin centripetus, from Latin centrum (see centre) + -petus 'seeking' (from petere 'seek').

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: centri|pet¦al

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.