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 transformer that powered the central air conditioner stopped working after Irma's arrival, and the system was not connected to the backup generator, which otherwise kept electricity flowing in the two-story building. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "'Absolute nightmare': 4 former Florida nursing home staffers charged in 12 Hurricane Irma deaths," 29 Aug. 2019 For a state that has suffered from years of budget deficits, it's been seen by some as a potential money generator. Susan Haigh,, "Fate of legalized marijuana in Connecticut remains hazy," 19 Aug. 2019 For a state that has suffered from years of budget deficits, it’s been seen by some as a potential money generator. Susan Haigh,, "Fate of legalized marijuana in Connecticut remains hazy," 19 Aug. 2019 The exhaust note is quite Porsche even with the sound generator (which sounded obnoxious with the 2.5-liter engine). San Diego Union-Tribune, "2019 Boxster 718: preserving Porsche purity," 18 Aug. 2019 Dana-Bashian touted the project as an economic generator that would grow the city's economy through new jobs, housing, tourism and other business opportunities. David Tarrant, Dallas News, "Surf’s up: Wave pool, Crystal Lagoon among plans unveiled at town hall for new $1B Rowlett development," 9 Aug. 2019 Those turbines move a generator, which produces electricity from the resulting kinetic energy. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "City Dwellers Ignore Infrastructure at Their Peril," 15 July 2019 Portable emergency radios with real-time NOAA weather reports and Public Emergency Alert System information can be powered by a hand-crank generator, solar panel, rechargeable batteries or wall power adapter., "Ready for the ‘Big One’? What you need now to prepare for an earthquake," 9 July 2019 As the aircraft descends, which can also take around 20 minutes, the electric motor would run in reverse to act as a generator, turned by the windmilling propeller. The Economist, "Hybrid airliners could come to dominate the skies," 28 June 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

4 Sep 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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