Definition of motor in English:



  • 1A machine, especially one powered by electricity or internal combustion, that supplies motive power for a vehicle or for another device with moving parts.

    ‘these electric motors are highly reliable’
    ‘the sander has a smooth and powerful 520 watt motor’
    • ‘As the authors discuss in the preface it would be difficult to envision agriculture without electric motors and other electrical devices.’
    • ‘Small motors are built into computers, copiers, and fax machines.’
    • ‘The lightweight device, powered by an electric motor, gently simulates the rocking movements normally provided by mum or dad.’
    • ‘It gets a boost from electric motors to propel the vehicle at low speeds, when the engine is least efficient.’
    • ‘Surges can also be generated within the home by motors and other electrical devices.’
    • ‘Rather unnecessarily, he apologises for the lack of wind that forces us to use the motor.’
    • ‘There has also been an increase in organized theft of small outboard motors.’
    • ‘Faraday fooled around with wires and magnets and batteries, making the first electric motors and dynamos.’
    • ‘In February, 2001, hydraulic rams and electric motors that open the bridge will be installed.’
    • ‘Most of the arguments in favour of the internal combustion engine and against the steam engine and the electric motor are technological or economic in nature.’
    • ‘Electricity powers the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle.’
    • ‘Their subject of focus is the instabilities created when air and liquid mix under pressure - as in the combustion chamber of a diesel motor or rocket engine.’
    • ‘Her pace quickened as she heard the motor of a nearby automobile turn on.’
    • ‘Electric motors have only one moving part and require little maintenance.’
    • ‘This is an excellent option if you are looking for something like a cooling fan or a windshield wiper motor.’
    • ‘These cars have internal combustion gasoline engines coupled with electric motors that are powered by batteries.’
    • ‘Hybrid vehicles combine an electric motor with a gasoline engine to deliver above-average gas mileage.’
    • ‘The vehicle was intended primarily to be powered by an electric motor.’
    • ‘Electric motors turn electricity into motion.’
    • ‘Instead of an engine, a stack of fuel cells and an electric motor will supply power - but you won't even see them.’
    • ‘The steam engine had symbolized the First Industrial Revolution and the electric motor and internal combustion engine the Second.’
    • ‘Instead, an electric motor powered by the hydrogen fuel cells turns the front wheels.’
    • ‘It was abandoned and scrapped in 1918, after mining decreased and electric motors supplanted steam boilers at the mill.’
    apparatus, appliance, instrument, tool, utensil, device, unit, contraption, contrivance, gadget, mechanism, engine, lever, pulley
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    1. 1.1 A source of power, energy, or motive force.
      ‘hormones are the motor of the sexual functions’
      • ‘For example, the force generation by molecular motors has been studied as well as the mechanical properties of biopolymers.’
      • ‘Here we present a more detailed analysis of contractile force generation in a cell that lacks cytoskeletal protein motors.’
      • ‘Atomic force microscopy and optical traps are used to probe cellular and subcellular forces, such as those of kinesin motors.’
      • ‘In Schumpeter's original explanation, entrepreneurship was seen as the motor of innovation.’
      • ‘Molecular motors generate force and motion by continually binding and breaking down energy-releasing molecules at a rate of about 100 molecules per second.’
      • ‘Education is identified as a motor of change, yet we are not told that it operates differently for the five groups or why this should be the case.’
  • 2British informal A car.

    ‘we drove out in my motor’
    • ‘The car fan bought the motor for £5,000 three years ago.’
    • ‘New Euro-rules could force older cars off garage forecourts, making a bargain motor harder to find.’
    • ‘The motor vehicle driver should always allow at least a half-car-width between the bike and the motor.’
    • ‘One can only respond enthusiastically to the idea that the compact, prestige Beemer represents a hot motor among people in their 70s.’
    • ‘Together since 1951, Peugeot and Pininfarina have created some of the most stylish mass-market motors of all time.’
    • ‘Car thefts have dropped in Basildon after police deployed decoy motors which catch crooks in the way a Venus fly trap plant catches insects.’
    • ‘Otherwise, many people don't have a clue as to what sort of motors these Maseratis are.’
    • ‘One or two car owners found their motors submerged as the waters rushed in - despite signs warning that the car park was flooded.’
    motor car, automobile, machine
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  • 1British attributive Driven by a motor.

    ‘a motor van’
    • ‘During the summer months the harbourmaster is responsible for more than 2000 moorings and has to deal with hundreds of day-sailors, big yachts and motor cruisers from all over Europe.’
    • ‘When the business expanded with the move to a larger premises in Leinster Street, his mode of transport changed and a motor van was provided.’
    • ‘But at Port Sudan, halfway down the Red Sea, the restrictions were eased, and for the small charge of two shillings we could board a motor launch to be ferried across the harbour and view the town.’
    • ‘He has a 1915 steam roller and a 1935 motor roller of his own, which he takes to the summer shows.’
    • ‘Out at sea a ‘Laguna Cruises' motor launch goes past us, with a full complement heading for the deep.’
    • ‘In 1901 we launched our first motor yacht, and do you know what it was?’
    1. 1.1 Relating to motor vehicles.
      ‘motor insurance’
      • ‘But no visit to Detroit's motor show would be the same without taking a peek at some of the more outlandish designs which are, unfortunately, never intended to go into general production.’
      • ‘From now, the motor industry cannot impose rules that restrict competition between dealers and service centres or stop them representing other manufacturers without permission.’
      • ‘If successful, classes will be enhanced with new courses to give students trade skills in motor maintenance or plumbing, and tempt high fliers with business administration or sales training.’
      • ‘William Henry Bowker was a Blackburn grocer, but after learning to drive for the army during the First World War he seized the opportunities offered by the new age of motor transport and started a car dealership.’
      • ‘Three years ago the youngsters were trainees, with no qualifications - now they are qualified motor mechanics working at a range of local firms.’
      • ‘Anyone involved in historic motorsport in any country, on two or four wheels, including motor clubs, event organisers, media and businesses, is invited to submit nominations.’
      • ‘The link-up helped lift the gloom over the motor industry caused by the ending of car production at Luton, where many workers left the factory for the last time yesterday feeling angry and disappointed.’
      • ‘Pilot schemes have proved rather successful so far with one insurer reporting that 25% of motor theft claims had been withdrawn since it had begun using the software.’
      • ‘For the last seven years, Johnson had worked as a self-employed motor mechanic, storing cars to use for spare parts.’
      • ‘He eventually moved to the Daily Herald, where he made his name as a motoring and motor sports commentator, and later worked for the BBC.’
      • ‘Traffic incidents included 15 motor accidents, 30 cases of traffic obstruction and 16 illegally parked cars.’
      • ‘His own fleet motor insurance has almost quadrupled in price, from €43,200 to €157,400 in the last three years.’
      • ‘The local Rotary Club held a motor show at the weekend, nine years after the last event.’
      • ‘Originally from Leeds, where he ran his own motor mechanics business, he retired with his wife to Skelton more than 20 years ago and continues regularly to cycle round the roads near his home.’
      • ‘Many older drivers resent the high cost of motor insurance - especially if they have never had an accident and do not use their cars very much.’
      • ‘Previously he had sold milk and motor spare parts.’
      • ‘However, they spent the least on petrol, diesel and other motor oils at £11.00 a week, compared to a UK average of £14.70.’
      • ‘Now they are increasingly being trained as saleswomen and motor mechanics.’
      • ‘After more than 50 years in the motor trade Geoff Catlow is gearing up to enjoy his retirement.’
      • ‘The most expensive components of motoring are: financing the car, motor insurance and car tax.’
  • 2attributive Giving or producing motion or action.

    ‘demand is the principle motor force governing economic activity’
    • ‘Germany is accustomed to thinking of itself as the motor force of European recovery rather than what it has become in recent times.’
    • ‘These are some of the reasons why America has been the motor economy and why we owe Clinton and Greenspan, in these respects, so much.’
    • ‘But the working class still exists and it will be the motor force of the transformation of society.’
    • ‘It's being driven by the fact that creativity has become the economic motor force.’
    kinetic, driving, impelling, propelling, propulsive, operative, moving
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    1. 2.1Physiology Relating to muscular movement or the nerves activating it.
      ‘the motor functions of each hand’
      • ‘Eleven of the 13 patients initially presented with sensory nerve symptoms, motor peripheral nerve symptoms, or both.’
      • ‘In the muscular dystrophies pharyngeal motor function is usually only moderately affected.’
      • ‘Her higher functions, cranial nerve examination, and motor and sensory examinations were all within normal limits.’
      • ‘The nerve damage affects sensory, motor, and autonomic function and progressively leads to impairments and disability.’
      • ‘Generally, the left side of the brain controls the motor movements of the right side of the body, and vice versa.’


  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction Travel in a motor vehicle.

    ‘they motored north up the M6’
    • ‘Bob, Richard, and I had motored from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road in search of a mystery.’
    • ‘I fired it up effortlessly and proceeded to motor around the yard.’
    • ‘Its tanks motored up the narrow road, tracks clattering on tarmac, firing directly into houses.’
    • ‘He was motoring slowly along in the thick traffic in April, 2002, when a police officer had him pull over.’
    • ‘A self-confessed ‘anorak’, he was indulging in his hobby of inking in all the B roads they have motored along over the years on a map he keeps specifically for that purpose.’
    • ‘I was motoring along, a little intimidated by the evil eye I was getting from taxi drivers, when the bus in front of me stopped to pick up passengers.’
    • ‘After qualifying third Lehto moved to second at the first turn and quickly motored into the lead on the opening lap.’
    • ‘Mac put his foot down and the truck moved through the gateway picking up speed as it motored down the dirt road.’
    • ‘Looking like fugitives from a bankrupt circus, the platoon slowly motored down a narrow muddy road to rejoin Charlie Company.’
    • ‘If I remember rightly, she did eventually go on to pass her test, and is now motoring around quite happily.’
    • ‘Yes, the Healey was the type of car that would sidle up suggestively to your wife's MG in the golf club car park and suggest motoring down to a discreet little hotel on the coast for the weekend.’
    • ‘So she turns back around and the golf cart starts motoring down the mountain, as fast as its little golf cart motor can go.’
    • ‘I was imagining yesterday what it would be like if those tanks were at San Francisco airport, motoring up Highway 101 into San Francisco, lobbing shells along the way.’
    • ‘Here I find myself writing to the Richmond News again, first about the fires on the dyke and now about motorists motoring through red lights at pedestrian walks.’
    • ‘Love him or loathe him, he kept that dream he keeps banging on about alive this week when he motored off to Canberra in one from his collection of automobiles.’
    • ‘As he turned to his buddies and laughed, I scurried into my car and motored away as fast as my little four-cylinder could carry me.’
    • ‘The Skyline Drive allows tourists to motor through the 105-mile stretch of paved road that winds along the crests of the mountains through the length of the park.’
    hurtle, speed, career, shoot, streak, sweep, hare, fly, wing
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    1. 1.1informal Run or move as fast as possible.
      ‘he had motored along to second base on a passed ball’
      • ‘She said thanks and proceeded to motor along to the lift while I did what I had to do on the floors.’
      • ‘How was I supposed to know that his little legs could motor so fast?’
      • ‘‘We flew early on and I was worrying the winning post would come too soon but he really motored over the last 100 yards,’ Spencer told BBC Sport.’
      • ‘He motors into the box and shoots over, just after the linesman has raised his flag for offside.’
      • ‘Silver Star really motored from half way and she got up to take second place two lengths behind the winner and it was a similar distance back to Moonbeam in third.’
      • ‘Armstrong followed his move a split second later, motoring around the others and up behind Beloki as if he were being winched out of a ditch.’


Late Middle English (denoting a person who imparts motion): from Latin, literally ‘mover’, based on movere ‘to move’. The current sense of the noun dates from the mid 19th century.