[en-juh n]
See more synonyms for engine on Thesaurus.com
  1. a machine for converting thermal energy into mechanical energy or power to produce force and motion.
  2. a railroad locomotive.
  3. a fire engine.
  4. any mechanical contrivance.
  5. a machine or instrument used in warfare, as a battering ram, catapult, or piece of artillery.
  6. Obsolete. an instrument of torture, especially the rack.

Origin of engine

1250–1300; Middle English engin < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin ingenium nature, innate quality, especially mental power, hence a clever invention, equivalent to in- in-2 + -genium, equivalent to gen- begetting (see kin) + -ium -ium
Related formsen·gine·less, adjectivemul·ti·en·gine, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for engine

Contemporary Examples of engine

Historical Examples of engine

  • By this engine, whose springs I am continually oiling, I play them all off.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • But when K., growing uneasy, came out into the yard, the engine had started at last.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The total weight of the monoplane with engine and propeller is 352 pounds.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • I did not want to start the engine until I had finished everything else.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Fuel consumption is a prime factor in the production of engine power.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

British Dictionary definitions for engine


  1. any machine designed to convert energy, esp heat energy, into mechanical worka steam engine; a petrol engine
    1. a railway locomotive
    2. (as modifier)the engine cab
  2. military any of various pieces of equipment formerly used in warfare, such as a battering ram or gun
  3. obsolete any instrument or deviceengines of torture

Word Origin for engine

C13: from Old French engin, from Latin ingenium nature, talent, ingenious contrivance, from in- ² + -genium, related to gignere to beget, produce
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 engine

c.1300, "mechanical device," also "skill, craft," from Old French engin "skill, cleverness," also "trick, deceit, stratagem; war machine" (12c.), from Latin ingenium "inborn qualities, talent" (see ingenious). At first meaning a trick or device, or any machine (especially military); sense of "device that converts energy to mechanical power" is 18c., especially of steam engines.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

engine in Science


  1. A machine that turns energy into mechanical force or motion, especially one that gets its energy from a source of heat, such as the burning of a fuel. The efficiency of an engine is the ratio between the kinetic energy produced by the machine and the energy needed to produce it. See more at internal-combustion engine steam engine. See also motor.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.