Definition of pulley in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpo͝olē/

noun (plural pulleys)

(also pulley wheel)
Image of pulley
1A wheel with a grooved rim around which a cord passes. It acts to change the direction of a force applied to the cord and is chiefly used (typically in combination) to raise heavy weights. Compare with block (sense 7 of the noun).
Example sentences
  • Prior to World War II, the sash (the parts that move) was counterweighted by a temperamental arrangement of cords, pulleys and iron weights.
  • It turned out to be a spare pulley used for lifting heavy equipment.
  • We come across bright ideas in books, like over-length lines passed through pulleys under floats and the excess taken up by counter-balancing weights.
1.1(On a bicycle) a wheel with a toothed rim around which the chain passes.
Example sentences
  • The upper pulley wheel is such a cool thing for rearward arc travel bikes.
  • The lower pulley wheel has no play and should be installed with the lettering facing away from your bicycle's frame.
1.2A wheel or drum fixed on a shaft and turned by a belt, used especially to increase speed or power.
Example sentences
  • Standard belt lengths between pulleys: 132 to 500 mm; widths between 10 and 200 mm.
  • There are V-belt constructions made up of sections that lock together, allowing you to wrap the belt around a trapped pulley and join the two ends.
  • Something else you don't do - you don't clear sap buildup from between a pulley and belt when the conveyor is running.

verb (pulleys, pulleying, pulleyed)

[with object]
Hoist with a pulley.
Example sentences
  • It's like being on a boat, sleeping on the bus, waking, buying a lift ticket, being pulleyed up the mountain, the payoff, the floating dance of linked telemark turns.
  • It was being pulleyed by several cords of thick rope overhead.


Middle English: from Old French polie, probably from a medieval Greek diminutive of polos 'pivot, axis'.

  • pole from Old English:

    The Old English word from which we get pole, as in ‘flag pole’ or ‘telegraph pole’, meant ‘stake’ and is ultimately from the same source as pale. To be in pole position is to be in a leading or dominant position, from motor racing, where it describes the first place on the starting grid, on the front row, and on the inside of the first bend, but it comes from horse racing. On 19th-century racecourses a pole marked the starting position closest to the inside boundary rails, a favourable position in a race. Pole as in North Pole is from Latin polus ‘end of an axis’, from Greek polos ‘pivot, axis, sky’. The adjective polar dates from the mid 16th century and is from medieval Latin polaris ‘heavenly’, from polus. The Pole Star, or Polaris, is the star around which the stars appear to rotate. Polos is also the probable source of pulley (Middle English).

Words that rhyme with pulley

ampullae, bullae, bully, fully, Lully, Woolley, woolly

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pul·ley

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