en·​gine | \ ˈen-jən How to pronounce engine (audio) \

Definition of engine

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : 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
2 : a railroad locomotive
3a : 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
b : any of various mechanical appliances often used in combinationfire engine
c : a mechanical tool: such as
(1) : an instrument or machine of war
(2) obsolete : a torture implement
5 : computer software that performs a fundamental function especially of a larger program
6 obsolete
b : evil contrivance : wile


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

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Examples of engine in a Sentence

Noun 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 The question now is whether big tax hikes promised by a new administration could throttle that engine. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Joe Biden’s tax plan could take a bite out of some small businesses," 22 Oct. 2020 The economic engine winding down here is the power station itself, called Sherco. Star Tribune, "Schafer: What looks like a giveaway to Google is actually a bet against decline in Becker," 21 Oct. 2020 Google is good for the country, so goes the corporate message, and has been a humble economic engine — not a predatory job killer. Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times, "Google Antitrust Fight Thrusts Low-Key C.E.O. Into the Line of Fire," 21 Oct. 2020 Since late March, the coronavirus pandemic and a mandatory two-week quarantine for out-of-state arrivals has crashed the Hawaiian tourism industry, the economic engine of the Aloha State. Tovin Lapan, SFChronicle.com, "Traveling to Hawaii during coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know," 21 Oct. 2020 That engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission which helps bring this SUV to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS600 SUV Priced at a Bargain $161,550," 19 Oct. 2020 The economic engine could sputter — and more than a few once vibrant workplaces could look like ghost towns. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's jobless wonder when the economic intermission will end," 16 Oct. 2020 That engine hasn't exactly kicked into high gear since. Frank Pallotta, CNN, "Here's how badly coronavirus has decimated the box office," 14 Oct. 2020 The University of Alaska is an important part of our state’s educational system, and a powerful economic engine. Anchorage Daily News, "Candidate Q&A: Alaska House District 28 — Suzanne LaFrance," 3 Oct. 2020 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 6a


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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Time Traveler for engine

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for engine

Last Updated

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Engine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engine. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for engine


How to pronounce engine (audio)

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 How to pronounce engine (audio) \

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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