commutator

noun com·mu·ta·tor \ ˈkäm-yə-ˌtā-tər , -yü- \
Updated on: 1 May 2018

Definition of commutator

1 : a series of bars or segments connected to the armature coils (see armature 2b)of a generator or motor so that rotation of the armature will in conjunction with a set of fixed brushes (see 2brush 3) convert alternating current into direct current
Note: In a generator, a commutator results in an output of direct current. In a motor, the commutator converts incoming alternating current into direct current before using it to generate motion.
2 : an element of a mathematical group that when used to multiply the product of two given elements either on the right side or on the left side but not necessarily on both sides yields the product of the two given elements in reverse order

Recent Examples of commutator from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'commutator.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of commutator

1880

in the meaning defined at sense 1

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

Learn More about commutator


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up commutator? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to coax or persuade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • spring-flowers
  • Which is a synonym of raillery?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!