[awl-ter-ney-ter, al-]

noun Electricity.

a generator of alternating current.

Origin of alternator

First recorded in 1890–95; alternate + -or2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for alternator



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

alternator in Science



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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