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 On our way back to the harbor, the main Blue Ocean working vessel, the one with the day’s kanpachi harvest, loses an engine and its captain can’t get into port. Adam Skolnick, Longreads, "The Poke Paradox," 12 Feb. 2020 In 1989, another incident with minor injuries occurred when an engine failed over the ocean because of a worn fuel pump assembly. Mike Baker, New York Times, "Years of Safety Disputes: Inside the Company that Flew Kobe Bryant," 6 Feb. 2020 For Wuhan, an economic engine of central China and now the world’s largest quarantine zone, the damage is likely to be especially severe. James T. Areddy, WSJ, "Deadly Infection Keeps Chinese Consumers From Spending," 26 Jan. 2020 Without the rumbling of an engine, people in EVs can detect road and wind noise at 40 mph, compared with 60 mph in conventional cars, according to Hyundai. Eric Adams, Wired, "Hyundai's Luxury SUV Mixes Mics and Math for a Silent Ride," 23 Jan. 2020 The Dred is powered by an 8-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Barrett-Jackson: Grateful Dead equipment truck, hot rods and more cool vehicles up for grabs on the auction's final day," 19 Jan. 2020 The industry’s rapid rise and record-breaking profits, long heralded as an engine of American economic growth, now are seen as evidence of the dangers of corporate consolidation. Washington Post, "PopSockets, Tile and other companies will ask Congress to help stop big tech bullying," 16 Jan. 2020 The trip stretches almost 10,000 miles from London, U.K., to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia using only car with an engine no bigger than one liter. Bassam Tarazi, Popular Mechanics, "What I Learned On My 10,000-Mile Road Trip From London to Mongolia," 12 Jan. 2020 The crash was being reported as an accident—an early theory had it that an engine had caught on fire right after takeoff. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "How a Journalist in Kyiv Responded to the Downing of a Ukrainian Passenger Plane," 11 Jan. 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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Engine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engine. Accessed 18 Feb. 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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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

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