mag·​ne·​to mag-ˈnē-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce magneto (audio)
plural magnetos
: a magnetoelectric machine
especially : an alternator with permanent magnets used to generate current for the ignition in an internal combustion engine

Examples of magneto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That jog down memory lane led me to read about a different type of magnetic-field sensor that also relies on such alloys: something called a magneto-inductive magnetometer, which appears to have first been commercialized around 2010. IEEE Spectrum, 26 Apr. 2022 Weisser whipped out a heat gun and melted the filings into the wax paper, and presto: magneto-art. Eliza Strickland, Discover Magazine, 11 June 2010 Accompanying the car is the vendor's own coil ignition system, which can be carried as a spare and in case of emergency fitted to replace the magneto in around five minutes. Josh Max, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 Timbuk3 clearly had great prescience: Just a year after this song’s release, David Pritchard and Steven Chu first trapped atoms in a magneto-optical trap (or MOT) at Bell Labs, laying the foundation for the cold atom revolution to follow. Paul Lipman, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 To learn more about how magneto-location works for the dogs, the study authors will begin a new experiment placing magnets on the dogs’ collars to find out if this disrupts their navigational skills. Courtney Sexton, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 However, there are also materials that will only change polarization in the presence of a magnetic field, called magneto-optic materials. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, 29 Apr. 2020 Subsequent starts after the initial pull are push-button, as the capacitor discharges into the magneto—now acting as a starter motor—and turns the crankshaft. David Beard, Car and Driver, 14 Feb. 2020 From there, the engine's magneto acts as a generator, charging a lightweight ultra-capacitor in two minutes after a cold start. David Beard, Car and Driver, 14 Feb. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'magneto.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1877, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of magneto was in 1877

Dictionary Entries Near magneto

Cite this Entry

“Magneto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


mag·​ne·​to mag-ˈnēt-ō How to pronounce magneto (audio)
plural magnetos
: a small electric generator using permanent magnets
especially : one used to produce sparks in an internal-combustion engine

More from Merriam-Webster on magneto

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