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

The fire affected access to the airport, which was operating on emergency generators. Faith Karimi And Joe Sutton, CNN, "People and animals evacuated as raging fire burns 3,000 acres in Maui," 12 July 2019 So far, utilities have largely relied on generators powered by burning natural gas (which emits carbon dioxide) to keep the lights on., "California, New York racing to cut emissions, but each faces major obstacles," 9 July 2019 The store is without power and running on backup generators. Alexa Díaz,, "‘It was the scare of my life’: Residents near Ridgecrest feel intense shaking and fear," 4 July 2019 The city’s two airports opened, and hospitals here and in other provinces were running on generators. Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "Argentina, Uruguay Blacked Out by Massive Power Failure," 16 June 2019 Nigerians spend an estimated $14 billion a year on small-scale generators. Samuel Ayokunle Olowosejeje, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria’s unreliable electricity costs its economy $29 billion a year—solar power would save billions," 1 June 2019 This is good news for large wind turbine manufacturers that rely on magnet generators made from neodymium and dysprosium, among other rare-earth elements like praseodymium (Pr) and terbium (Tb). Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "We've Found a New Source for Rare-Earth Elements We Need for Green Tech," 7 Mar. 2019 Never use a portable generator inside a home or business. Pat Byrne, Detroit Free Press, "DTE Energy: 72K without power after storms roll through metro Detroit," 19 July 2019 Even though the party was briefly interrupted by a blackout, once a generator was brought in to get the lights and AC back up and running, the fun continued with singalong music from Kulture’s favorite T.V. show. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Cardi B and Kulture Wore Matching Moschino for the “Onedurful Birthday” Party," 15 July 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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Statistics for generator

Last Updated

7 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for generator

The first known use of generator was in 1646

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More Definitions for generator



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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Comments on generator

What made you want to look up generator? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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