v. pushed, push·ing, push·es
a. To apply pressure against (something), especially for the purpose of moving it: pushed the door but couldn't budge it.
b. To move (something) by exerting force against it; thrust or shove: pushed the crate aside.
c. To exert downward pressure on (a button or keyboard, for example); press.
2. To force (one's way): We pushed our way through the crowd.
3. To urge forward or urge insistently; pressure: pushed him to study harder.
4. To extend or enlarge: pushed sales into the millions.
5. Informal To approach in age: is pushing 40 and still hasn't settled down.
a. Informal To promote or sell (a product): The author pushed her latest book by making appearances in bookstores.
b. Slang To sell (a narcotic) illegally: push drugs.
7. Sports To hit (a ball) in the direction toward the dominant hand of the player propelling it, as to the right of a right-handed player.
1. To exert pressure or force against something: winds pushing against the sail.
2. To advance despite difficulty or opposition; press forward: The regiment pushed toward the front line.
3. To advocate or recommend something insistently: pushed for a change in leadership.
4. To expend great or vigorous effort: pushed to finish his paper by the deadline.
a. The act of pushing; a thrust: gave the door a push.
b. The act of pressing: with a push of the button.
2. A vigorous or insistent effort toward an end; a drive: a push to reform health care.
3. A provocation to action; a stimulus: has artistic talent but needs a push to get started.
4. Informal Persevering energy; enterprise: doesn't have the push to get the job done.
push around Informal
To treat or threaten to treat roughly; intimidate.
push off Informal
To set out; depart: The infantry patrol pushed off before dawn.
To continue or proceed along one's way: The path was barely visible, but we pushed on.
push paper Informal
To have one's time taken up by administrative, often seemingly petty, paperwork: spent the afternoon pushing paper for the boss.
push up daisies Slang
To be dead and buried: a cemetery of heroes pushing up daisies.
when/if push comes to shove
At a point when the situation must be confronted and dealt with: When push comes to shove, we'll have to move to a cheaper place.
[Middle English pushen, from Old French pousser, from Latin pulsāre, frequentative of pellere, to strike, push; see pel-5 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: push, propel, shove, thrust
These verbs mean to press against something in order to move it forward or aside: push a baby carriage; wind propelling a sailboat; shove a tray across a table; thrust the package into her hand.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.