en·​gine | \ˈen-jən \

Definition of engine 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 obsolete

a : ingenuity

b : evil contrivance : wile

2a : something used to effect a purpose : agent, instrument mournful and terrible engine of horror and of crime— E. A. Poe

b : something that produces a particular and usually desirable result engines of economic growth

3a : a mechanical tool: such as

(1) : an instrument or machine of war

(2) obsolete : a torture implement

b : machinery

c : any of various mechanical appliances often used in combination fire engine

4 : a machine for converting any of various forms of energy into mechanical force and motion also : a mechanism or object that serves as an energy source black holes may be the engines for quasars

5 : a railroad locomotive

6 : computer software that performs a fundamental function especially of a larger program


engined; engining

Definition of engine (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to equip with engines

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Other Words from engine


engineless adjective

Synonyms for engine

Synonyms: Noun

machine, motor

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Examples of engine in a Sentence


The car has a four-cylinder engine. tanks, planes, and other engines of war The tax cut could be an engine of economic growth.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Even House Speaker Paul Ryan isn't immune from rodents chomping on his vehicle's engine wiring. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Reports: Woodchucks feast on House Speaker Paul Ryan's SUV wiring," 12 July 2018 Spectacular examples include people hiding in an engine block, behind a dashboard and even inside a passenger seat. Nicholas Kulish, The Seattle Times, "Human smuggling cat-and-mouse game plays out beyond the U.S.-Mexico border," 9 July 2018 Spectacular examples have included people hiding in an engine block, behind a dashboard and even inside a passenger seat. Nicholas Kulish, New York Times, "Border Patrol’s Last Line of Defense? It Isn’t at the Border," 9 July 2018 Pompeo told reporters that the two countries would soon hold working-level talks on the destruction of Pyongyang's missile-engine-testing facility. John Hudson, Anchorage Daily News, "Pompeo leaves North Korea with promise of more talks but no tangible breakthrough," 7 July 2018 This data may include your car’s location, speed, mileage, tire pressure, fuel use, braking, engine/battery status, driver behavior and more. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "5 essential tech options for your new car," 6 July 2018 The gasoline engine kicks in when the battery gets low, or the driver switches to Sport driving mode. G. Chambers Williams Iii, Houston Chronicle, "Hyundai’s 2018 Ioniq Hybrid has starting price of $22,200," 1 July 2018 The fire started in the engine area of the boat, and quickly spread, WSVN reported. Char Adams, PEOPLE.com, "Good Samaritans Jump Into Action to Save 6 from Burning Boat in Florida — Watch Video of the Rescue," 26 June 2018 Today, a company might make engines in one location and medical imaging devices in another. Jason Pontin, WIRED, "3D Printing Is the Future of Factories (for Real This Time)," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Why can't engine manufacturers come up with an engine similar to what is on the more fuel-efficient aircraft — for example, producing a version of the engine that is on a 787 or a 777 — to fit and safely propel the 747? John Cox, USA TODAY, "Ask the Captain: Can the 747 be saved?," 29 Oct. 2017

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

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First Known Use of engine


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1841, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for engine


Middle English engin, from Anglo-French, from Latin ingenium natural disposition, talent, from in- + gignere to beget — more at kin

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Statistics for engine

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for engine

The first known use of engine was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for engine



English Language Learners Definition of engine

: a machine that changes energy (such as heat from burning fuel) into mechanical motion

: the vehicle that pulls a train

: something that is used for a particular purpose


en·​gine | \ˈen-jən \

Kids Definition of engine

1 : a mechanical tool or device tanks, planes, and other engines of war

2 : a machine for driving or operating something especially by using the energy of steam, gasoline, or oil

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More from Merriam-Webster on engine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for engine

Spanish Central: Translation of engine

Nglish: Translation of engine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of engine for Arabic Speakers

Comments on engine

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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