lost motion

  1. motion of a machine or mechanism, especially a reciprocating one, during which no useful work is performed.

  2. motion between parts in an assembly due to manufacturing tolerances, adjustments, slip, or wear.

Origin of lost motion

First recorded in 1875–80

Words Nearby lost motion

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use lost motion in a sentence

  • He found much lost motion and four broken teeth, and he was grease to his eyebrows—in other words, he was happy.

    Cabin Fever | B. M. Bower
  • The makers claim that lost motion can be taken up in a bevel gear much better than in a spur gear.

    Farm Engines and How to Run Them | James H. Stephenson
  • Willie's method of eating was in itself a sermon on efficiency—there was no lost motion—no waste of time.

    The Oakdale Affair | Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • A slight initial load is applied to take up the lost motion of the machinery, and the beam balanced.

  • Noise is an automatic alarm indicating lost motion and wasted energy.

    Creative Chemistry | Edwin E. Slosson