prime mover


Definition of prime mover

1a : an initial source of motive power (such as a windmill, waterwheel, turbine, or internal combustion engine) designed to receive and modify force and motion as supplied by some natural source and apply them to drive machinery
b : a powerful tractor or truck usually with all-wheel drive
2 : the self-moved being that is the source of all motion
3 : the original or most effective force in an undertaking or work education is … a prime mover of cultural and societal change— R. C. Buck

Examples of prime mover in a Sentence

She was the prime mover behind the town's annual summer festival.

Recent Examples on the Web

Outside his office there's a photograph of the Supreme Court's chambers of Justice Antonin Scalia, the prime mover of originalism over the last half-century. Fox News, "Rep. McCaul on chances Congress can solve immigration crisis," 24 June 2018 Meantime, South Korea’s President Moon – the prime mover behind the summit – is moving ahead with peace efforts, with or without Trump. Trudy Rubin,, "Trump-Kim summit: What to watch for when they meet in Singapore | Trudy Rubin," 6 June 2018 The prime mover behind the Ohio State probe was a former wrestler and former Jordan friend named Mike DiSabato, who said Strauss groped him a number of times. NBC News, "Nancy Pelosi backs Ohio State wrestlers who criticized Jim Jordan," 12 July 2018 The prime mover has been Leonard Leo, the society’s executive vice president. Bob Egelko,, "Trump has ‘outsourced’ his Supreme Court picks to this conservative group," 8 July 2018 It is named for Stanley Field, nephew of Marshall, who founded the department store chain that is itself now an artifact, and president of the Field for 56 years and prime mover in the founding of Shedd Aquarium and Brookfield Zoo, as well. Steve Johnson,, "With a skeleton and megaplanters, the Field Museum fleshes out its main hall," 26 June 2018 Jefferson has long presented itself as a major player and prime mover behind the state’s medical marijuana program. Sam Wood,, "He gave a $125k gift to Jefferson, expecting it would help get a marijuana growing license. Was it pay-to-play?," 22 June 2018 Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo, notorious open borders Republicans, the prime movers. Fox News, "Secretary Nielsen talks immigration, relationship with Trump," 15 May 2018 In Watertown, the company has about 2,000 workers and is the prime mover behind the Arsenal on the Charles project, a development of cultural and commercial tenants including the athenahealth headquarters. Andy Rosen,, "In fight to stay atop athenahealth, Jonathan Bush might just have a shot," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prime mover.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of prime mover

1795, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for prime mover

translation of Medieval Latin primus motor

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prime mover

Share prime mover

Statistics for prime mover

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prime mover

The first known use of prime mover was in 1795

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prime mover

prime mover


English Language Learners Definition of prime mover

: a person or thing that starts something or that has a very powerful influence on something

prime mover

\ ˈprīm-ˈmü-vər How to pronounce prime mover (audio) \

Medical Definition of prime mover

More from Merriam-Webster on prime mover

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prime mover

Comments on prime mover

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


of or relating to a parable or parabola

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!