Definition of engine in US English:



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

    • ‘The cars, powered by this engine, are capable of speeds up to 135 mph.’
    • ‘The new technology switches engines off when they are not needed.’
    • ‘The device will disable the ignition of a car or stop its engine while in motion.’
    • ‘So the Taxi driver got in his cab and started the engine.’
    • ‘This is why drivers are asked to turn off their automobile engines, and not smoke, when filling fuel tanks with gasoline.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Diesel-powered submarines use combustion engines to provide power and charge the sub's batteries.’
    • ‘After all the passengers were loaded on board the shuttle started up its engines and taxied out to the runway.’
    • ‘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 flight data recorder tracks the speed and actions of the engine and instruments.’
    • ‘It will have new wings, probably made of advanced composite materials, and use efficient engines originally designed for use on Boeing's 7E7.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 engine roared and the instrument panel in front flickered into action.’
    • ‘And there are consumers who want to buy cars powered by those engines.’
    • ‘She revved the engine of her motorcycle twice, and sped off.’
    • ‘Boats powered by propellers and engines were bringing people across the river in under three hours.’
    motor, mechanism, machine, power source, drive
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    1. 1.1 A thing that is the agent or instrument of a particular process.
      ‘exports used to be the engine of growth’
      • ‘By 1991, one of the most spectacular corporate growth engines the world had ever seen was in danger of imploding.’
      • ‘China and India are currently the engines of world economic growth.’
      • ‘Trade and investment are the real engines of economic growth.’
      • ‘Institutes of Technology are seen as the main engines for growth in the regions.’
      • ‘One of the engines of this growth is the city's excellent institutions of higher education.’
      • ‘The chairman said it was heartening to the food and modern services sector as the main engines of growth in these areas.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘During 2003 the social sector was one of the main engines of employment growth.’
      • ‘China has become one of the world's important growth engines in recent years.’
      • ‘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 report said urbanisation and the second stage of industrialisation are the two new growth engines.’
      • ‘The twin engines of economic growth - the technological revolution and globalisation - will only widen the existing gap.’
      • ‘Private initiative will provide the engine for growth and will be the major force in developing the economy.’
      • ‘We were told that ‘gateways’ and ‘hubs’ would act as engines for regional growth.’
      • ‘The world's poor are the engines of population growth and most of them have a religion.’
      • ‘Exports and consumer spending are the country's main economic growth engines, which last year helped the economy grow by 4.8 percent.’
      • ‘During the downswing, the legs are the engine that powers the machine.’
      • ‘We can be the growth engines for the revolution of a continent.’
      • ‘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 information age generated many new commodities from phones to PCs which provided new engines of economic growth.’
      cause, agent, instrument, driver, originator, initiator, generator
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  • 2A railroad locomotive.

    • ‘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 country manufactures all of its own coaches and engines.’
    • ‘County Commissioners have voted to buy a railroad engine and two rail cars for the line.’
    • ‘Three engines and 11 boxcars derailed near the 3800 block of Croton Avenue.’
    • ‘The walls and shelves are covered with photographs, train schedules, railroad spikes, whistles and replica engines.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company built the engine bearing number YG - 3358, in 1965.’
    • ‘General Electric and General Motors build railroad locomotives, while some companies lease the engines to railroad companies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 all-time roster of steam locomotives totalled just 60 engines, less than half of which were acquired new.’
    1. 2.1
      short for fire engine
      • ‘The fire brigade was out in force with an emergency tender, a high-rise platform engine and two regular fire engines.’
      • ‘The engine came complete with leather hose held together by rivets.’
      • ‘The introduction of the new engine was instrumental in keeping the Sligo fire service moving forward.’
      • ‘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’
    2. 2.2historical A mechanical device or instrument, especially one used in warfare.
      ‘a siege engine’
      • ‘Light siege engines and field artillery bulked behind the infantry, crews crouched at their weapons.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their work was covered by over a hundred siege engines that hurled not only stones but also pots filled with various flammable substances.’
      • ‘The Crusaders invested the city, but without siege engines they were unable to do anything effective.’
      • ‘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
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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.