dy·​na·​mo | \ ˈdī-nə-ˌmō How to pronounce dynamo (audio) \
plural dynamos

Definition of dynamo

2 : a forceful energetic individual

Synonyms for dynamo


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The dynamo was introduced in 1867 to produce electricity for commercial use. Like all later generators, the original dynamos changed mechanical energy (produced by steam, which was itself produced by burning coal) into electricity. The word is less used today than it once was, since it's often applied only to generators that produced direct electric current (DC) rather than alternating current (AC), which is now the standard. A human dynamo is a person who seems to have unlimited energy.

Examples of dynamo in a Sentence

a dynamo who barely needs to sleep, or so it seems
Recent Examples on the Web That peerless 96-year-old, legendary dynamo, mother of four, grandmother, great-grandmother, bereaved widow. Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2022 While her counterpart might have been speechless about Watkins, Mitty coach Sue Phillips had plenty of praise to heap on the Trailblazers’ multi-faceted dynamo. Steve Galluzzo, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 What was Taxachusetts has become New England’s economic dynamo. Jim Stergios, WSJ, 9 Sep. 2022 Rudkin and Pepperidge Farm battled through the Great Depression and World War II and emerged as a dynamo of the American food industry. Fox News, 24 June 2022 Cars, on the other hand, are gendered male by American culture — the individualized manifestation of the modern industrial dynamo. Los Angeles Times, 25 July 2022 Murray in Atlanta will join with Trae Young, an offensive dynamo who needs both plenty of defensive help and a release valve. Mark Deeks, Forbes, 30 June 2022 Trae Young is a one-man wrecking ball -- an offensive dynamo that has torched the Cavs throughout the season. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 15 Apr. 2022 And why not the confident little dynamo Ms. Holmes? WSJ, 7 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of dynamo

1882, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dynamo

short for dynamo-electric machine, translation of German dynamo-elektrische Maschine; dynamo-elektrisch, probably by inversion of elektrodynamisch electrodynamic

Note: According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1st edition, 1897), "The full name dynamo-electric machine was given by [Werner] Siemens in 1867, to distinguish his invention from the magneto-electric machines previously used, in which the electric current was generated by means of a permanent magnet." This statement appears to be based on a citation from The Times (December 5, 1882), according to which, "Professor Thompson [not further identified] said that the name 'dynamo-electric machine' was first applied by Dr. Werner Siemens in a communication made in January, 1867, to the Berlin Academy." The communication in question was "Ueber die Umwandlung von Arbeitskraft in elektrischen Strom ohne Anwendung permanenter Magnete," published in Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Band 130 (1867), pp. 332-35. The article does in fact describe a generator with rotating coils, but nowhere does Siemens use the word dynamo-elektrisch or the phrase dynamo-elektrische Maschine; the closest he comes is magnetelektrisch for the opposing term. The first appearance of dynamo-elektrisch must date some time after this.

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dynamo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dynamo. Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for dynamo


dy·​na·​mo | \ ˈdī-nə-ˌmō How to pronounce dynamo (audio) \
plural dynamos

Kids Definition of dynamo

1 : generator
2 : an energetic person

More from Merriam-Webster on dynamo

Nglish: Translation of dynamo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dynamo


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