From Middle English puly, poley, from Old French poulie, polie (“a pulley, windlass”), from Medieval Latin polidia, plural mistaken for the feminine of neuter polidium, from Ancient Greek πολίδιον (polídion, “little pivot”), diminutive of πόλος (pólos, “pivot, hinge, axis”), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷel- (“to turn”). Associated with pull (verb) by folk etymology.
pulley (plural pulleys)
- (engineering, countable) One of the simple machines; a sheave, a wheel with a grooved rim, in which a pulled rope or chain lifts an object (more useful when two or more pulleys are used together, as in a block and tackle arrangement, such that a small force moving through a greater distance can exert a larger force through a smaller distance).
- (transitive) To raise or lift by means of a pulley.
- 1655, James Howell, “To Capt. Francis Bacon”, in Epistolæ Ho-Elianæ. Familiar Letters Domestic and Forren. […], volume (please specify the page), 3rd edition, London: […] Humphrey Mos[e]ley, […], OCLC 84295516:
- [a mine]is digg'd out with ease, being soft, and is between a white Clay and Chalk at first; but being pulley'd up with the open Air, it receives a crusty kind of hardness