mo·​tor | \ ˈmō-tər How to pronounce motor (audio) \

Definition of motor

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : one that imparts motion specifically : prime mover
2 : any of various power units that develop energy or impart motion: such as
a : a small compact engine
b : internal combustion engine especially : a gasoline engine
c : a rotating machine that transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy
3 : motor vehicle especially : automobile



Definition of motor (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : causing or imparting motion
b : of, relating to, or being a motor neuron or a nerve containing motor neurons motor fiber
c : of, relating to, concerned with, or involving muscular movement motor areas of the brain
2a : equipped with or driven by a motor
b : of, relating to, or involving an automobile
c : designed for motor vehicles or motorists


motored; motoring; motors

Definition of motor (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to travel by automobile : drive
2 : to move or proceed at a vigorous steady pace motored down the field for a touchdown

transitive verb

: to transport by automobile

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Other Words from motor


motordom \ ˈmō-​tər-​dəm How to pronounce motordom (audio) \ noun
motorless \ ˈmō-​tər-​ləs How to pronounce motorless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of motor in a Sentence

Noun the device was equipped with a small electrical motor to make the gears spin went shopping for a new automobile at Valley Motors Adjective motor areas of the brain Verb We spent the afternoon motoring through the countryside. The car motored slowly up the hill.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Musk would appear to have granted Gitlin his wish with regard to electric motors. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Meet the new ‘Astrovan’ for Crew Dragon—a Tesla Model X," 13 May 2020 Power will come from an electric motor on each axle paired with a 82.0-kWh lithium-ion battery. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "2021 Audi Q4 e-tron Will Be the Cheapest Electric Audi," 4 May 2020 The initial model will offer up to 1,000 horsepower and 11,000 pound-feet of torque from multiple electric motors. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "GMC Hummer electric pickup unveiling delayed, production still set for fall 2021," 29 Apr. 2020 Typically, a combination of an electric motor and a gearbox. Matt Simon, Wired, "The WIRED Guide to Robots," 16 Apr. 2020 Electric car and battery maker Tesla will cut 75% of its on-site workforce at its Gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada, which produces batteries and electric motors. Chase Difeliciantonio,, "Tesla to cut three-quarters of workers at Nevada plant," 27 Mar. 2020 Altigreen, founded in 2012, started out retrofitting diesel and petrol cars with electric motors to convert them to hybrids. Kieron Monks, CNN, "There's a new entry in India's electric rickshaw race," 25 Mar. 2020 The 200-horsepower electric motor rockets the Hypersport to 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds and to a top speed of 200 mph. Dan Carney, Popular Science, "This 200-mph electric motorcycle will try to stop accidents before they happen," 7 Feb. 2020 But gas furnaces typically rely on electric motors, and no relief is coming on that front. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "Xcel Energy natural gas costs expected to drop 25% this winter," 16 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Now, instead of taking the B&O railway to Sandusky and boarding the ferry boat G.A. Boeckling to cross Sandusky Bay, the family motored along the new Chaussee, a narrow road that followed the spine of the Cedar Point peninsula. Susan Glaser, cleveland, "Thanks for the memories, Cedar Point: Readers recall their favorite park moments," 3 May 2020 Book a day trip with East Island Excursions, which motors a small fleet of sleek, high-speed catamarans to Culebra. David Jefferys, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Spend 72 Hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico," 6 Aug. 2019 In between, a small boat motored slowly by, its wake as white as a bridal train. The New Yorker, "at the epicenter of the pandemic.," 27 Apr. 2020 The undercurrent that the world might actually come apart to some extent feels, now, quite familiar, but average citizens keep motoring along, much like the characters in Wenders' film. Eric Adams, Wired, "This 30-Year-Old Sci-Fi Epic Is a Saga for Our Times," 21 Apr. 2020 As the crabbing vessel Scandies Rose motored through an area under warnings of high winds and icing southwest of Kodiak on New Year’s Eve, the captain called a friend. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "'It happened really fast’: Coast Guard identifies 5 presumed dead after crab boat sinks on New Year’s Eve," 3 Jan. 2020 Highlighted by a 46-yard pass from quarterback Julio Cisneros to Jesus Flores, Queens motored 53 yards in six plays to create the second two-point deficit of the game. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "San Jacinto 8A nips Queens for big Division 2 triumph," 1 Oct. 2019 And now, the Wolverines’ season is effectively over in terms of championship potential while 7-0 Penn State keeps motoring toward a Nov. 23 showdown with Ohio State in Columbus. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Week 8 observations: Wisconsin exposed as fraud in title chase and that could hurt Big Ten," 20 Sep. 2019 In our experience, that range number seems realistic; our test vehicle motored for 21 miles at 75 mph on battery power before firing up the gas engine. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, "Volvo Builds Us a Boss Wagon," 15 Jan. 2020

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


1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1895, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for motor


Latin, from movēre to move

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Time Traveler for motor

Time Traveler

The first known use of motor was in 1586

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Statistics for motor

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Motor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for motor


How to pronounce motor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of motor

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a machine that produces motion or power for doing work



English Language Learners Definition of motor (Entry 2 of 3)

: of, relating to, used in, or involving a vehicle that is powered by a motor (such as a car or motorcycle)
: having a motor
technical : of or relating to the part of the nervous system that controls the movement of muscles



English Language Learners Definition of motor (Entry 3 of 3)

: to travel in a car
of a car, truck, etc. : to move in a specified manner or direction


mo·​tor | \ ˈmō-tər How to pronounce motor (audio) \

Kids Definition of motor

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a machine that produces motion or power for doing work an electric motor



Kids Definition of motor (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : of, relating to, or designed for use in an automobile a motor trip motor oil
2 : equipped with or driven by a motor
3 : causing or controlling movement motor nerves


motored; motoring

Kids Definition of motor (Entry 3 of 3)


mo·​tor | \ ˈmōt-ər How to pronounce motor (audio) \

Medical Definition of motor

1 : causing or imparting motion
2 : of, relating to, or being a motor neuron or a nerve containing motor neurons motor fibers motor cells
3 : of, relating to, concerned with, or involving muscular movement motor areas of the brain

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More from Merriam-Webster on motor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for motor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with motor

Spanish Central: Translation of motor

Nglish: Translation of motor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of motor for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about motor

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