AskDefine | Define levitate

Dictionary Definition



1 cause to rise in the air and float, as if in defiance of gravity; "The magician levitated the woman"
2 be suspended in the air, as if in defiance of gravity; "The guru claimed that he could levitate" [syn: hover]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. To cause to rise in the air and float, as if in defiance of gravity.
    The magician levitated the woman.
  2. Be suspended in the air, as if in defiance of gravity.
    The guru claimed that he could levitate.



Verb form

  1. second person plural present tense of levitare
  2. second person plural imperative of levitare

Extensive Definition

Levitation (from Latin levare, to raise) is the process by which an object is suspended against gravity, in a stable position, without physical contact.
It is also a conjuring trick, apparently raising a human being without any physical aid. The illusion can be produced by clever mechanics, lighting arrangements and other means.


For levitation on earth, a force is required directed vertically upwards and equal to the object's weight. This can be achieved by, for example magnetic, electrostatic (i.e. electrically charged objects) or aerodynamic forces. By means of diamagnetic levitation even small live animals have been levitated.
Scientists have discovered a way of levitating ultra small objects by manipulating the so-called Casimir force, which normally causes objects to stick together by quantum force. This practice however, is only possible for micro-objects.
Aerodynamic levitation is seen in air hockey where jets of gas from the table push upwards against the puck. Levitating objects may also force air downwards e.g. VTOL aircraft and hovercraft. The use of an airfoil allows a fixed-wing aircraft or rotary-wing aircraft, such as a Helicopter, to fly by Bernoulli's principle. A sphere can be stably levitated in a stream of air without any type of control system, if conditions are right. This was merchandised as a toy, circa 1960.
The effect of levitation can also be achieved using the upthrust of air, with the levitating object having the same average density as air. The heavier parts are compensated with one or more tanks of Helium or other gas (or vacuum) having less density than air.

Further reading

  • Motion Mountain: The Free Physics Textbook ">}} esp. the section on levitation in the chapter on electromagnetism.


levitate in Bulgarian: Левитация
levitate in Catalan: levitació
levitate in German: Levitation
levitate in Spanish: Levitación
levitate in French: Lévitation
levitate in Korean: 공중부양
levitate in Italian: Levitazione
levitate in Dutch: Levitatie
levitate in Japanese: 空中浮揚
levitate in Norwegian: Levitasjon
levitate in Polish: Lewitacja
levitate in Portuguese: Levitação
levitate in Russian: Левитация
levitate in Albanian: Levitacioni
levitate in Slovak: Levitácia
levitate in Finnish: Levitaatio
levitate in Swedish: Levitation
levitate in Chinese: 悬停

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

arise, ascend, boost, buoy up, cast up, come up, curl upwards, elevate, erect, escalate, float, go up, grow up, heave, heft, heighten, heist, hike, hoick, hoist, hold up, jerk up, knock up, lift, lift up, lob, loft, loom, mount, perk up, raise, raise up, rear, rear up, rise, rise up, set up, sky, spiral, spire, stand up, stick up, surge, swarm up, sweep up, throw up, tower, up, upbuoy, upcast, upgo, upgrow, upheave, uphoist, uphold, uplift, upraise, uprear, uprise, upspin, upstream, upsurge, upswarm, upthrow, upwind
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