Definition of perpetuum mobile in US English:

perpetuum mobile


  • 1

    another term for perpetual motion
    • ‘Tito's perpetuum mobile kept rotating during the stagnant 1970s.’
    • ‘We are amused by purported perpetuum mobile devices.’
    • ‘His preoccupations caricature Fedor's preoccupation with infinity by reducing what is for Fedor a kind of otherworldly transcendence to the pragmatism of a perpetuum mobile.’
  • 2Music
    A piece of fast-moving instrumental music consisting mainly of notes of equal length.

    • ‘Op. 54 is in two movements, minuet and a kind of perpetuum mobile, often referred to as a toccata: its form and style can't be found elsewhere in Beethoven.’
    • ‘Other 20th-century composers, for instance Honegger, Martin, and Prokofiev, wrote toccatas in perpetuum mobile style, following the example of Schumann.’


Latin, literally ‘continuously moving (thing)’, on the pattern of primum mobile.


perpetuum mobile

/pərˌpeCHəwəm ˈmōbəlē/