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From Old French celeritee (compare French célérité), from Latin celeritas, from celer (fast, swift).


  • IPA(key): /sɪˈlɛɹɪti/
  • (US)


celerity (usually uncountable, plural celerities)

  1. (literary, poetic) Speed, swiftness.
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, act 5, in Measure for Measure:
      O most kind maid, / It was the swift celerity of his death, / Which I did think with slower foot came on, / That brain'd my purpose.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, chapter 48, in Moby-Dick:
      The phantoms, for so they then seemed, were flitting on the other side of the deck, and, with a noiseless celerity, were casting loose the tackles and bands of the boat which swung there.
    • 1937, Dorothy L. Sayers, chapter 11, in Busman’s Honeymoon:

      “My parsnip wine is really extra good this year. Dr Jellyfield always takes a glass when he comes—which isn’t very often, I’m pleased to say, because my health is always remarkably good.”

      “That will not prevent me from drinking to it,” said Peter, disposing of the parsnip wine with a celerity which might have been due to eagerness but, to Harriet, rather suggested a reluctance to let the draught linger on the palate.

    • 2018 January 2, Adam Gopnik, “Never Mind Churchill, Clement Attlee Is a Model for These Times”, in The New Yorker[1]:
      When Churchill and Roosevelt were considering their declaration of the Atlantic Charter, it was Attlee, acting with a celerity and a clarity of purpose that belied his reputation for caution, who insisted on including “freedom from want” as one of its aims, making economic rights and, with them, a decent life for all, one of the official aims of the war.
  2. (oceanography) The speed of individual waves (as opposed to the speed of groups of waves).
  3. (hydrology) The speed with which a perturbation to the flow propagates through the flow domain.

Related termsEdit