[ mag-nee-toh ]
/ mægˈni toʊ /
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noun, plural mag·ne·tos.Electricity.

a small electric generator with an armature that rotates in a magnetic field provided by permanent magnets, as a generator supplying ignition current for certain types of internal combustion engines or a hand-operated generator for telephone signaling.



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Also called magnetoelectric generator, magnetogenerator.

Origin of magneto

First recorded in 1880–85; short for magnetoelectric generator

Definition for magneto (2 of 2)


a combining form representing magnetic or magnetism in compound words: magnetochemistry.
Also especially before a vowel, magnet-.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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British Dictionary definitions for magneto (1 of 2)

/ (mæɡˈniːtəʊ) /

noun plural -tos

a small electric generator in which the magnetic field is produced by a permanent magnet, esp one for providing the spark in an internal-combustion engine

Word Origin for magneto

C19: short for magnetoelectric generator

British Dictionary definitions for magneto (2 of 2)


combining form

indicating magnetism or magnetic propertiesmagnetosphere
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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