motive power


any power used to impart motion; any source of mechanical energy.
Railroads. locomotives or other vehicles that supply tractive power.

Origin of motive power

First recorded in 1615–25 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for motive power

locomotion, propulsion, motivity

Examples from the Web for motive power

Historical Examples of motive power

  • Hitherto she had been the motive-power of all piety to Agnes Stone.

    For the Master's Sake

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • The ideal of the rose was the motive-power of the whole process.

    The Heart of Nature

    Francis Younghusband

  • He saw her object, but could not guess the motive-power behind.

    The Californians

    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton

  • She had no notion of utilising the motive-power at hand in the children.

    The Beth Book

    Sarah Grand

  • On the other hand, they grant that the motive-power of the world is spiritual.

British Dictionary definitions for motive power

motive power


any source of energy used to produce motion
the means of supplying power to an engine, vehicle, etc
any driving force
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