General English

Cars & Driving

  • noun a wheel with a grooved rim to carry a belt, chain or rope


  • A wheel, with a grooved rim, that carries a rope or chain, and turns on a frame. See also pulley sheave.


  • noun a device with rings through which wires or cords pass, used in traction to make wires tense

Origin & History of “pulley”

Although pulleys are used for ‘pulling’, there is no etymological connection between the two words. Pulley comes via Old French polie from vulgar Latin *polidia, which was probably borrowed from the plural of a medieval Greek *polidion, a diminutive form of Greek pólos ‘pole, pivot’ (source of English pole ‘extremity’).