- a generator of alternating current.
Origin of alternator
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for alternator
The other appears to have in it a resistance and a battery (or else an alternator).Letters of a Radio-Engineer to His Son
I was up here—loading the condenser—when you cut me off from the alternator.
The roar of the alternator died down, first to a hum and then to a purr.
The alternator began to buzz and spark, crackling viciously.The Boy Inventors' Radio Telephone
Each vertical row comprises the measuring instruments for an alternator.The New York Subway
- an electrical machine that generates an alternating current
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for alternator
1878, agent noun in Latin form from alternate (v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- An electric generator that produces alternating current. The generator's coil is rotated (by a turbine, motor, or other power source), and its circular path causes it to cut cross a magnetic field (set up by strong magnets), first in one direction, then the other, with each cycle. The electric potential induced in the coil by this motion thus alternates between positive and negative once with each cycle, resulting in alternating current. See more at induction.
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