Definition of engine in English:



  • 1A machine with moving parts that converts power into motion.

    ‘the roar of a car engine’
    as modifier ‘engine failure’
    • ‘He said investigators will be looking at the plane's engines, instrument panels and talking to survivors in order to get a handle on the final minutes of the flight.’
    • ‘Oil powers their machinery and lubricates their engines.’
    • ‘The original tribunal of inquiry rejected Hanley's contention that the plane's failure was caused by water or other agents in the engines.’
    • ‘The cars, powered by this engine, are capable of speeds up to 135 mph.’
    • ‘So the Taxi driver got in his cab and started the engine.’
    • ‘The device will disable the ignition of a car or stop its engine while in motion.’
    • ‘After all the passengers were loaded on board the shuttle started up its engines and taxied out to the runway.’
    • ‘She revved the engine of her motorcycle twice, and sped off.’
    • ‘Those old-time engineers built and tested engines, producing power charts that we all use.’
    • ‘At the time, the big advantage of petrol engines over steamed powered cars was that they required only one kind of fuel, instead of a combination of coal and water.’
    • ‘And there are consumers who want to buy cars powered by those engines.’
    • ‘This is why drivers are asked to turn off their automobile engines, and not smoke, when filling fuel tanks with gasoline.’
    • ‘It will have new wings, probably made of advanced composite materials, and use efficient engines originally designed for use on Boeing's 7E7.’
    • ‘The engine roared and the instrument panel in front flickered into action.’
    • ‘The flight data recorder tracks the speed and actions of the engine and instruments.’
    • ‘Diesel-powered submarines use combustion engines to provide power and charge the sub's batteries.’
    • ‘Boats powered by propellers and engines were bringing people across the river in under three hours.’
    • ‘This alternative fuel, compatible with current automobile engines, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’
    • ‘The sails were lifted, though they also used the mechanical engine to steer the ship more easily.’
    • ‘The new technology switches engines off when they are not needed.’
    motor, mechanism, machine, power source, drive
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A thing that is the agent or instrument of a particular process.
      ‘exports used to be the engine of growth’
      • ‘Exports and consumer spending are the country's main economic growth engines, which last year helped the economy grow by 4.8 percent.’
      • ‘The chairman said it was heartening to the food and modern services sector as the main engines of growth in these areas.’
      • ‘China and India are currently the engines of world economic growth.’
      • ‘By 1991, one of the most spectacular corporate growth engines the world had ever seen was in danger of imploding.’
      • ‘During the downswing, the legs are the engine that powers the machine.’
      • ‘We were told that ‘gateways’ and ‘hubs’ would act as engines for regional growth.’
      • ‘Private initiative will provide the engine for growth and will be the major force in developing the economy.’
      • ‘Cities are engines of growth and cultural expansion and finding answers to the question of how cities can remain viable in the future is one of the most urgent challenges world-wide.’
      • ‘The report said urbanisation and the second stage of industrialisation are the two new growth engines.’
      • ‘Institutes of Technology are seen as the main engines for growth in the regions.’
      • ‘The world's poor are the engines of population growth and most of them have a religion.’
      • ‘We can be the growth engines for the revolution of a continent.’
      • ‘China has become one of the world's important growth engines in recent years.’
      • ‘The policy judgment was one of timing and rate of increase, so as not to damage those key engines of growth: household confidence and business investment.’
      • ‘The twin engines of economic growth - the technological revolution and globalisation - will only widen the existing gap.’
      • ‘Trade and investment are the real engines of economic growth.’
      • ‘This needs to be changed if they have to act as engines of growth, and if they are to provide a healthy environment for our citizens.’
      • ‘The information age generated many new commodities from phones to PCs which provided new engines of economic growth.’
      • ‘During 2003 the social sector was one of the main engines of employment growth.’
      • ‘One of the engines of this growth is the city's excellent institutions of higher education.’
      cause, agent, instrument, driver, originator, initiator, generator
      View synonyms
  • 2A locomotive.

    • ‘County Commissioners have voted to buy a railroad engine and two rail cars for the line.’
    • ‘It is true, that had development continued on steam locomotives, they would have been far more efficient engines.’
    • ‘And a final word… In about three years it will be time to mark the bi-centenary of the first successful use of a steam railway engine anywhere in the world.’
    • ‘The all-time roster of steam locomotives totalled just 60 engines, less than half of which were acquired new.’
    • ‘The Trials were held by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company, to find the best locomotive engine for a railway line that was being built to serve these two English cities.’
    • ‘The service runs between the Pakistani border city of Lahore and Indian border city of Amrtisar, with engines and coaches provided alternately by the two countries.’
    • ‘General Electric and General Motors build railroad locomotives, while some companies lease the engines to railroad companies.’
    • ‘The country manufactures all of its own coaches and engines.’
    • ‘Three engines and 11 boxcars derailed near the 3800 block of Croton Avenue.’
    • ‘The futuristic sculpture, modelled on the first locomotive engine to be built at the loco works in 1888, will serve as a reminder of the town's history in industry.’
    • ‘Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company built the engine bearing number YG - 3358, in 1965.’
    • ‘The walls and shelves are covered with photographs, train schedules, railroad spikes, whistles and replica engines.’
    1. 2.1 A fire engine.
      • ‘The fire brigade was out in force with an emergency tender, a high-rise platform engine and two regular fire engines.’
      • ‘The crew from the Engine arrived and stayed for about three and a half hours while crews worked to extinguish the fire and overhaul the building contents’
      • ‘The introduction of the new engine was instrumental in keeping the Sligo fire service moving forward.’
      • ‘The engine came complete with leather hose held together by rivets.’
    2. 2.2historical A mechanical device or instrument, especially one used in warfare.
      ‘a siege engine’
      • ‘We do know they have about five or six thousand well armed and trained warriors, along with archers and engineers with siege engines and equipment.’
      • ‘The Crusaders invested the city, but without siege engines they were unable to do anything effective.’
      • ‘Their work was covered by over a hundred siege engines that hurled not only stones but also pots filled with various flammable substances.’
      • ‘Light siege engines and field artillery bulked behind the infantry, crews crouched at their weapons.’
      • ‘After all, medieval warfare depended on siege engines which were nothing more than big levers to breach castle walls!’
      device, contraption, gadget, apparatus, machine, appliance, mechanism, implement, instrument, tool, utensil, aid, invention, contrivance
      View synonyms


Middle English (formerly also as ingine): from Old French engin, from Latin ingenium ‘talent, device’, from in- ‘in’ + gignere ‘beget’; compare with ingenious. The original sense was ‘ingenuity, cunning’ (surviving in Scots as ingine), hence ‘the product of ingenuity, a plot or snare’, also ‘tool, weapon’, later specifically denoting a large mechanical weapon; whence a machine (mid 17th century), used commonly later in combinations such as steam engine, internal combustion engine.