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Pronunciation: grav'i-te

Definition: The attraction toward the earth that makes any mass exert downward force or have weight. Strictly speaking, gravity is the algebraic sum of the gravitational attraction of the earth and the opposing centrifugal effect of the mass's rotation around the earth. Thus, gravitational attraction at the north and south poles is larger than at the equator. A satellite in a stable orbit has zero gravity because the centrifugal effect of orbital motion exactly balances the gravitational attraction of the earth.

[L. gravitas]

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© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.