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

Perhaps instead of four engines, the rocket might have nine, Haot says. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Meet the Brooklyn rocket startup testing engines out of storage containers on Long Island," 26 June 2018 Flames could be seen coming out of the engine of the Russian Airlines Airbus jet as the team was traveling to Rostov for its match on Wednesday vs. Uruguay. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Saudi Arabia's World Cup team plane catches fire in flight," 18 June 2018 That mostly is driven by what has fallen on that ground — rain, the fuel that powers so much of the engine of wildlife habitat. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Texas’ deer population would welcome good soaking," 16 June 2018 The performance is adequate for daily driving and there is a Sport mode that dips quicker into engine power. Mark Maynard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "2018 Kia Niro PHEV: The future of plug-and-play," 13 July 2018 There is a reason why so many key competitors retain V6 engines. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2019 Subaru Ascent: A Bigger, Better Family SUV," 12 July 2018 Just after Jones’ engine let go, Steve Wallace stopped on the back stretch with a flat tire. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Everything falls into place for Ty Majeski for his first Slinger Nationals title," 11 July 2018 Tesla Motors, for example, briefly turned to engines that don’t use rare earths after the 2010 price surge. Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, "How Rare Earths (What?) Could Be Crucial in a U.S.-China Trade War," 11 July 2018 And then there’s the virtuoso sequence where Ant-Man battles his evil antagonist atop a Thomas the Tank engine model train. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The best superhero stories admit that superheroes are ridiculous," 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

1 Sep 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

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