gen·​er·​a·​tor | \ ˈje-nə-ˌrā-tər How to pronounce generator (audio) \

Definition of generator

1 : one that generates: such as
a : an apparatus in which vapor or gas is formed
b : a machine by which mechanical energy is changed into electrical energy
2 : a mathematical entity that when subjected to one or more operations yields another mathematical entity or its elements specifically : generatrix

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Did You Know?

Generators work by rotating a coil of wire in a magnetic field, causing a current to flow in the wire. A generator may be a huge spinning turbine powered by water, wind, steam, gas, or nuclear reactions, which sends electricity out through power lines to thousands of customers. But normally when we use the word, we're thinking of a small machine powered by gasoline or diesel, such as you might keep in your basement for those times when a storm knocks out your power, to create electricity right in front of your eyes. A special kind of generator called an alternator powers a car's electrical system (including its lights, power steering, etc.) while the car is running.

Examples of generator in a Sentence

This new product will be a major revenue generator. a backup generator for the store
Recent Examples on the Web Not only do ventilators contain sophisticated hardware—from pressure generators, to patient circuits, to filters, and valves—but the software is also sensitive. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Designed Its Own Ventilator Prototype in Just 37 Days," 27 Apr. 2020 And getting your electricity from renewable or nuclear generators would reduce their emissions even further. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Americans have Texas-sized carbon footprints—here’s why," 22 Apr. 2020 The hospital itself became a victim after a transformer blew, forcing the hospital to operate on power from a back-up generator. The Enquirer,, "From the archives: 1999 tornado left 4 dead, homes destroyed," 9 Apr. 2020 In most of the United States (and within much of the European Union), utilities buy electricity from generators at auctions that are held every few minutes, and the price and quantities bought in these markets are made public almost immediately. Justin Wolfers, New York Times, "Another Way to See the Recession: Power Usage Is Way Down," 8 Apr. 2020 The bad news for Nigeria is that air and noise pollution from generators will last much longer than the lockdown will. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "The coronavirus lockdown in Africa’s largest city opens the door to increased generator pollution," 2 Apr. 2020 Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts about the coronavirus outbreak An index yellow means Waffle Houses in a certain location are serving a limited menu, due to low food supplies and no power or power only from a generator. NBC News, "Coronavirus is a Waffle House 'Index Red': Restaurant chain shutters 418 stores," 25 Mar. 2020 The risk from generators increases when the machines aren’t properly installed, placed or maintained without an electrician. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: Why do presidential candidates suddenly care about California property taxes?," 14 Nov. 2019 Whoever turns out to be right, quantum supremacy is a largely symbolic achievement; the specific task assigned to the Google computer - checking outputs from a random number generator - has no practical application. Sarah Kaplan, Anchorage Daily News, "Google scientists say they’ve achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ over classical computers," 23 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'generator.' 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 generator

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for generator

Time Traveler

The first known use of generator was in 1646

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Statistics for generator

Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Generator.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for generator


How to pronounce generator (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of generator

: something that produces something especially : a machine that produces electricity


gen·​er·​a·​tor | \ ˈje-nə-ˌrā-tər How to pronounce generator (audio) \

Kids Definition of generator

: a machine that produces electricity

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