- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for 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
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
On the other hand, they grant that the motive-power of the world is spiritual.The Inside of the Cup, Complete
- any source of energy used to produce motion
- the means of supplying power to an engine, vehicle, etc
- any driving force