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steam engine

an engine worked by steam, typically one in which a sliding piston in a cylinder is moved by the expansive action of the steam generated in a boiler.
Origin of steam engine
First recorded in 1745-55
Related forms
steam-engine, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for steam-engine
Historical Examples
  • If God be not, then steam-engine and flower are in the same category.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • No; the steam-engine is the better thing, for it has the soul of a man in it, and the flower has no soul at all.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Let us suppose ourselves to be in a building in which a steam-engine is at work.

    The Machinery of the Universe Amos Emerson Dolbear
  • He leaves it to the specialist, which is as if he should leave his dinner to be eaten by a steam-engine.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • Talk of a deer, the wind, or a steam-engine—they are not to be compared with it.

    Among the Pines

    James R. Gilmore
  • James Watt, the great improver of the steam-engine, died on the 25th of August, 1819.


    Paul Allardyce
  • Do not tell me that the people here understand the steam-engine,—pray do not!

    Paul Patoff

    F. Marion Crawford
  • Yet the dynamo, next to the steam-engine, was the most familiar of exhibits.

  • They might as well have tried to work a steam-engine on moral reasons.

    Short Studies on Great Subjects James Anthony Froude
  • A steam-engine and a steel-filing might equally well be compared together.

    On the Genesis of Species St. George Mivart
British Dictionary definitions for steam-engine


an engine that uses the thermal energy of steam to produce mechanical work, esp one in which steam from a boiler is expanded in a cylinder to drive a reciprocating piston
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
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Word Origin and History for steam-engine

steam engine


1751; earlier in the same sense was fire engine, atmospheric engine.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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steam-engine in Science
steam engine  

An engine in which the energy of hot steam is converted into mechanical power, especially an engine in which the force of expanding steam is used to drive one or more pistons. The source of the steam is typically external to the part of the machine that converts the steam energy into mechanical energy. Compare internal-combustion engine.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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