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
4a : machinery
b : any of various mechanical appliances often used in combination fire 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

a : ingenuity
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

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

The single-engine Beechcraft Sierra plane experienced a mechanical issue soon after taking off from Henderson Executive Airport. Luke Garrett, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Plane crash victim from El Cajon identified," 16 Sep. 2019 The pilot was returning to land when the single-engine aircraft crashed near an airport hangar, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Wayne K. Roustan, sun-sentinel.com, "Small plane crashes at Boca Raton Airport," 11 Sep. 2019 The single-engine prop-plane was carrying four people and went down shortly after taking off from the Henderson Executive Airport in Henderson, Nevada, city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said. Madeline Holcombe And Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN, "A small plane crash killed two and left three others hospitalized in Nevada," 8 Sep. 2019 The agency described the plane as a Piper PA-18 Super Cub, a two-seat, single-engine aircraft. oregonlive, "2 killed in plane crash at Hood River-area airport," 6 Sep. 2019 First responders found the single-engine plane lying on its top in the field about a mile northwest of Greenfield. USA TODAY, "Rare elephant calf, two-headed rattlesnake, another quake off Oregon: News from around our 50 states," 6 Sep. 2019 The single-engine plane lost power when the pilot made the landing in the westbound lanes of the interstate at mile marker 58, according to ALEA Cpl. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, "Small plane makes emergency landing on I-22 in Walker County," 30 Aug. 2019 On Wednesday, a single-engine plane crashed in a field near St. Cloud, leaving two people injured, according to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Cristóbal Reyes, orlandosentinel.com, "Pilot killed in Groveland plane crash, officials say," 23 Aug. 2019 The pilot of a single-engine plane died when the aircraft crashed in a field in North Marysville on Wednesday evening, police said. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "Pilot of small plane dies after crash in North Marysville field," 15 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for engine

Last Updated

13 Oct 2019

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 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

Comments on engine

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a bell tower

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