Definition of mechanical in US English:



  • 1Working or produced by machines or machinery.

    ‘a mechanical device’
    • ‘The warm hand of the farmer has long been replaced by the cold, mechanical suction of an automated milking system.’
    • ‘The pneumatic pump operated the mechanical heart and sustained Clark for 112 days.’
    • ‘His machines included mechanical devices for dredging, a mill to pump water and a device to pull ships over obstacles.’
    • ‘Much of the pleasure of real pinball comes from the physical interaction with a big, mechanical device and heavy ball bearings.’
    • ‘Police are investigating the incident involving a worker operating a mechanical street sweeper who was stopped by a gang of about eight youths.’
    • ‘He cannot even walk on his own and he is barely kept alive by a variety of mechanical devices.’
    • ‘The mini mechanical sweeper operates on a daily basis in and around the pedestrian area and the mid city streets.’
    • ‘A ratchet is a mechanical device that restricts movement in one direction and allows movement in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘The mechanical cooler operates on principles similar to a modern home refrigerator.’
    • ‘The researchers took their inspiration from mechanical walking toys that automatically stroll down a slope in response to gravity.’
    • ‘This technology entails the construction of very tiny mechanical devices coupled to electrical sensors and actuators.’
    • ‘The research marks the first time an animal has been able to use brain power alone to operate a mechanical object.’
    • ‘A variety of purely mechanical devices were used from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries to increase the size and capacity of the ear to conduct sound.’
    • ‘Each apartment includes mechanical ventilation for automatic exhaust of stale air.’
    • ‘We can expect that all valves, all mechanical devices, whatever they are, are going to have a failure at some stage.’
    • ‘Accelerometers are mechanical devices that respond to acceleration.’
    • ‘This is characteristic of the typewriter, a mechanical device.’
    • ‘Although we can envisage building tiny machines, examples put forward to date tend to be versions of mechanical devices: gear wheels and the like.’
    • ‘The mechanical gadget is operated by a spring which has to be cranked using a key.’
    • ‘It was the first low-cost, mass-marketed mechanical toothbrush.’
    1. 1.1 Relating to machines or machinery.
      ‘a mechanical genius’
      ‘mechanical failure’
      • ‘It was very frustrating, but eventually I learned about the engine falling off, so I chalked it up to mechanical failure.’
      • ‘And mechanical failure such as steering or suspension breakage could have you singing with the angels in seconds.’
      • ‘Any sabotage or mechanical failures would cause power cuts in Britain within days.’
      • ‘While hard disks have evolved over time, there is still always the danger of mechanical failure and the subsequent loss of all data on the drive.’
      • ‘What ought to be a routine mechanical operation has become an altogether more difficult and complicated affair.’
      • ‘Freeze protection is a mechanical feature on exterior garden faucets.’
      • ‘A mechanical failure of the train's brake cylinder was at fault on that occasion.’
      • ‘It is not known if the helicopter was shot down or suffered mechanical problems, or if there were casualties.’
      • ‘A Brazilian government report on the accident blamed poor maintenance for a series of mechanical failures that led to the explosion.’
      • ‘Accident investigators said there was no evidence of any mechanical failure and said the bus was travelling within the 40 mph speed limit.’
      • ‘No measure of mechanical failure or infection was reported.’
      • ‘Oil contamination would result from neglect of compressor maintenance, leading to mechanical failure.’
      • ‘Generally speaking, ensuing loss as a result of a breakdown is covered, but the mechanical failure itself isn't.’
      • ‘The hallway stretched out before her, an infinite tunnel of grey sterility and mechanical deprivation.’
      • ‘Aviation safety experts have been analyzing data on the incident to determine if the cause was pilot error, weather or mechanical failure.’
      • ‘To avoid failure because of mechanical problems, NASA carried out an extensive system design and test program.’
      • ‘The wreckage is also likely to be examined to see if there was any mechanical failure with a particular focus on brakes and wheels.’
      • ‘Repair records showed that levels of mechanical damage to devices from the ward were higher than normal.’
      • ‘The report concluded that although there was still a problem with the warning system for the landing gear, pilot error rather than mechanical failure was to blame for the crash.’
      • ‘To avoid any mechanical failure in so complex a piece of machinery as well as avoid all potential accidents is remarkable.’
  • 2(of a person or action) not having or showing thought or spontaneity; automatic.

    ‘she stopped the mechanical brushing of her hair’
    • ‘Deep in concentration Em hung her keys on the wall and walked to the kitchen, where she grabbed an apple, all in mechanical motions.’
    • ‘Most curious of all was the fact that he made the same mechanical gestures no matter what he was saying.’
    • ‘The algorithms ran their determined courses, and our thoughts followed one after another, as mechanical and as predictable as the planets in their orbits.’
    • ‘Consequently, sex routinely becomes mechanical, unfeeling, and unfulfilling.’
    • ‘Again, hesitation overwhelmed Adam but, out of mechanical instinct, he took the hand.’
    • ‘Cora's sword never stopped moving, her movement automatic and mechanical.’
    • ‘But are birds unfeeling, mechanical songsters, driven to sing but never understanding what it is they do?’
    • ‘Pearls of wisdom leave our mouths every day in an unthinking and mechanical manner.’
    • ‘He looked firmly at the villagers, who were heaping piles of straw around the lion with mechanical motions, as if they were going to burn it.’
    • ‘Tora brushed it off, but her words had sounded so mechanical it looked as though Tora had practiced saying them over and over again.’
    • ‘Everything I had been doing in the past was too mechanical, too forced.’
    • ‘In a mechanical motion, Adam tipped the bottles over the glasses and a steady stream of foamy beer poured into them.’
    • ‘Albert, Jr., I think, is a little too mechanical, not as spontaneous as he ought to be.’
    automatic, machine-like, unthinking, unemotional, unconscious, involuntary, instinctive, routine, matter-of-fact, habitual, inattentive
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  • 3Relating to physical forces or motion; physical.

    ‘the smoothness was the result of mechanical abrasion’
    • ‘This applies not just to the generation of mechanical motion but to areas such as energy generation, sensors, and information processing.’
    • ‘One is therefore compelled to conclude that mechanical forces play a role in the progressive nature of the disease.’
    • ‘First, exercise generates mechanical forces that stimulate bone-building osteoblasts.’
    • ‘Because it has a blood supply, the skeleton remodels or responds to mechanical forces throughout life.’
    • ‘To understand morphogenesis we need to look at the mechanical forces that cells can exert and the underlying cellular properties that generate these forces.’
    • ‘That's because the fluids are held in place by capillary forces that overpower gravity and other mechanical forces.’
    • ‘When a propeller produces thrust, aerodynamic and mechanical forces are present that cause the blade to vibrate.’
    • ‘It may be that the mechanical forces were unavoidable?’
    • ‘They are also less likely to be affected by mechanical forces or changes in the environment over their period of growth.’
    • ‘The regulation of adhesion site development is largely determined by mechanical force.’
    • ‘Thus the weight of evidence points to local mechanical forces.’
    • ‘When the opening fork encounters such a protein during mechanical unzipping, force increases until the protein is ejected.’
    • ‘You don't have to worry about magnetic fields, mechanical shock, spontaneous bit-rot or anything else.’
    • ‘One factor of potential importance in disease progression that is frequently overlooked is the role of mechanical forces.’
    • ‘Automakers can run a car using electronics more easily and economically than mechanical forces.’
    • ‘Most lesions can be managed conservatively by the use of properly fitting shoes and padding to redistribute mechanical forces.’
    • ‘Beyond a short distance from the source of disturbance, mechanical motions in solids propagate as one of four elastic waves.’
    • ‘The disc is subjected to varying mechanical forces at all times.’
    • ‘Those experiments were conducted in the absence of the mechanical forces that may act on molecules during function in vivo.’
    • ‘Turbine-generators and generator sets are devices that convert mechanical into electrical energy.’
    1. 3.1archaic (of a theory) explaining phenomena in terms only of physical processes.
      • ‘So the stark ontology of the mechanical philosopher is established a priori by appealing to a notion of intelligibility.’
      • ‘However, as he studied the mechanical philosophy of Descartes he became unhappy with it.’
      • ‘He explained the mechanical principle of the screw as a form of wedge, and he set out the mathematical characteristics of the helix.’
      • ‘As a philosopher he was inspired by Descartes, Spinoza, and Hobbes, but broke away from Descartes's mechanical conception of the universe.’
      • ‘Moreover, Descartes's mechanical philosophy was ultimately no different from all other forms of atomism.’
    2. 3.2archaic Relating to mechanics as a science.
      • ‘Archytas, the inventor of mechanical science, was a friend and correspondent of Plato.’
      • ‘He received a doctorate in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton University in 1967.’
      • ‘As both the reflection of mechanical science and a divine creation, nature was an analogue for knowledge.’
      • ‘No matter how complex a mechanical or engineering problem he proposed, Bryce found a solution within minutes.’
      • ‘This is because he would have been kept alive by mechanical science rather than nature.’
      mechanized, machine-driven, automated, automatic, motor-driven, power-driven, self-propelled
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  • 1mechanicalsThe working parts of a machine, especially a car.

    • ‘The mechanicals and build are impeccable, and the design still looks elegant.’
    • ‘In addition to the high number of vents featured on the rally cars, what else is it possible for you to do to keep the mechanicals cool during the hotter events?’
    • ‘Although the stack itself is free of moving parts, an examination of the mechanicals of a near-complete Focus FCV reveals a very complex machine.’
    • ‘Out on the roads they'll be impressed too by the revised, reworked and rebuilt mechanicals.’
    • ‘That said, rally car mechanicals will never be an exact science.’
    • ‘All-wheel-drive systems typically have lighter and more compact mechanicals that are perfectly suited for passenger cars.’
    • ‘The money goes into the mechanicals, the fundamentals, the bits that really matter.’
    • ‘Simply a sensational body styling exercise over some fabulous mechanicals.’
    • ‘But the car's styling is as important as its mechanicals.’
    • ‘It's really basically like taking the mechanicals of the Volkswagen Golf and putting them into something more fun.’
    • ‘The space underneath the car was also freed up for other mechanicals such as exhaust systems which can otherwise intrude into luggage or passenger areas.’
    • ‘But the Ford V8 had its limitations, as did the chassis, so he set about designing his own mechanicals.’
    • ‘We'll have to check the mechanicals on the door.’
    • ‘While much of the tough mechanicals are under the skin, the tires give the game away.’
    • ‘And with anything that invites enjoyment, it's wise to check the condition of the mechanicals for signs of abuse.’
    • ‘Sometimes, the concept cars actually have mechanicals beneath their handcrafted skin.’
    • ‘These mechanicals were clothed in a well proportioned five-door body which received a slight facelift this spring.’
    • ‘Although the central nose section does look like the thin nose of modern F1 cars, it is the mechanicals under the rear engine cover and the drivetrain which are the most interesting.’
    • ‘All located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, they are not only close geographically but they are also notoriously tough on the mechanicals.’
    • ‘The key ingredient of the VW-Bentley and the Ford-Jaguar remains the platform, the expensive below-the-waist mechanicals, so the more of them you make, the cheaper they are.’
  • 2usually mechanicalsarchaic (especially with allusion to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream) a manual worker.

    ‘rude mechanicals’
    • ‘I would be doing another role as well: Tom Snout, one of the rude mechanicals in A Midsummer Night's Dream.’
    • ‘The presence of the rude mechanicals who put on a play for their duke gives the audience a comical but telling image of theatre as a vital form of social exchange.’
    • ‘The mechanicals are all dressed in realistic nineteenth century working men's dress.’
    • ‘The mechanicals are perfectly hapless, clumsy and inept and John Ramm as Bottom makes a brilliant ass of himself.’
    • ‘The mechanicals in Midsummer were slow and dull, indulging in endless, random byplay rather than the specific actions called for in the text.’
    employee, member of staff, working man, working woman, workman, labourer, hand, operative, operator
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  • 3US Printing
    A completed assembly of artwork and copy, typically mounted on a sheet of stiff paper.

    • ‘Between putting tissues on mechanicals and thinning two-coat rubber cement, I spent every free minute studying these books.’
    • ‘We would pull it right off the machine - then the height of cutting-edge technology - and use it in mechanicals.’
    • ‘Sutnar's mechanicals, as evidence of an earlier evolutionary moment in the history of technology, remind us of the beauty in actually producing design.’
    • ‘He actually reproduced the shifts in paper color and the white-out from his original mechanicals.’


Late Middle English (describing an art or occupation concerned with the construction of machines): via Latin from Greek mēkhanikos (see mechanic) + -al.