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With little remaining energy, Mary hauled herself into elevator, fought the gravity generated by the ascent/ascension, and staggered out to the 14th floor.

Which word should I use? And why?

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In your usage

With little remaining energy, Mary hauled herself into elevator, fought the gravity generated by the ascent, and staggered out to the 14th floor.

Since Mary is climbing upwards, her action is called an

ascent - (n) a climb or walk to the summit of a mountain or hill.

in mountaineering first attempts of climbing a mountain are called

first ascents

It should be pointed out that your sentence does not really make sense since climbing upwards does not generate gravity.

Your other word has a very different meaning

ascension - (n) the act of rising to an important position or a higher level

June 2nd will be the 64th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the throne.

One of the most famous paintings of an ascension is Raphael's Transfiguration

This painting is also the subject of one of the largest "instant" Poloroids ever

  • When you take an elevator the gravity increases (you feel more heavy). Or you think that wasn't the way of wording it? – alex May 26 '17 at 3:10
  • I think it depends if the elevator is going up or down... :) The increased weight you feel is your own inertia relative to the elevator moving but, if the elevator is going up, at the top, you will actually weigh less than at the bottom. A person who weighs 150 pounds on the surface of the earth would weigh approximately 149.92 pounds at 10,000 feet above sea level. – Peter May 26 '17 at 3:22
  • Wait, so why do you feel lighter when the elevator is going down? And heavier when the elevator is going up? Am I wrong? I'm going to take the elevator later just to test this. – alex May 26 '17 at 3:23
  • You will feel heavier/lighter when the elevator's acceleration is greater than your body's, you will probably need to travel over several floors, 10-20, to get the effect, and you will need a fast elevator. Most elevators are programmed not to move so quickly so the riders will not feel motion sickness. If you are in a high rise, your ears will also "pop" around the 20th floor during the ascent to the top. – Peter May 26 '17 at 3:35
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Ascent and ascension are similar words, certainly, but the meaning is not the same:

ascent (n) : the act of rising or mounting upward, an advance in social status or reputation

ascension (n): the act of rising or ascending; especially : the act of moving to a higher or more powerful position

In your example it would be better to use ascent since that conveys only that Mary is moving upwards. Meanwhile, ascension, without any further context, implies that she is ascending toward Heaven, since that is a context in which the word is commonly used.

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