motive power


Definition of motive power

1 : an agency (such as water or steam) used to impart motion especially to machinery
2 : something (such as a locomotive or a motor) that provides motive power to a system

Examples of motive power in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The motive power behind all of these institutions was American commitment. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Present at the Demolition," 14 Dec. 2019 So was the stove and most of the engine, which was powered by gas produced from coal, though most of the motive power came from the 12,900 square feet of sail. John Kelly, Washington Post, "A truly magnetic personality: Capt. J.P. Ault and his amazing ship, the Carnegie," 14 Sep. 2019 Dethleffs says that adding electric motive power will decrease the towing demands of the camper and make handling better while driving. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Finally, a camper that could be towed by an electric car," 29 Aug. 2018 Leading British figures are Richard Trevithick, a pioneer of high-pressure steam (the steam itself creates the motive power) and George Stephenson, a genius of early locomotives. Charles R. Morris, WSJ, "‘Energy’ Review: The Path to Power," 21 June 2018

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

1702, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of motive power was in 1702

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Cite this Entry

“Motive power.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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