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motive power

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noun
  1. any power used to impart motion; any source of mechanical energy.
  2. Railroads. locomotives or other vehicles that supply tractive power.
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Origin of motive power

First recorded in 1615–25
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for motive power

Historical Examples

  • Hitherto she had been the motive-power of all piety to Agnes Stone.

    For the Master's Sake

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • The ideal of the rose was the motive-power of the whole process.

    The Heart of Nature

    Francis Younghusband

  • He saw her object, but could not guess the motive-power behind.

    The Californians

    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton

  • She had no notion of utilising the motive-power at hand in the children.

    The Beth Book

    Sarah Grand

  • On the other hand, they grant that the motive-power of the world is spiritual.


British Dictionary definitions for motive power

motive power

noun
  1. any source of energy used to produce motion
  2. the means of supplying power to an engine, vehicle, etc
  3. any driving force
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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