[ awl-ter-ney-ter, al- ]
See synonyms for alternator on
  1. a generator of alternating current.

Origin of alternator

First recorded in 1890–95; alternate + -or2

Words Nearby alternator Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use alternator in a sentence

  • It might be the turbine alternator of the Ring running by its own inertia for some time after the discharge had ceased.

British Dictionary definitions for alternator


/ (ˈɔːltəˌneɪtə) /

  1. 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

Scientific definitions for alternator


[ ôltər-nā′tər ]

  1. 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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.