View synonyms for prime mover

prime mover


  1. Mechanics.
    1. the initial agent, as wind or electricity, that puts a machine in motion.
    2. a machine, as a water wheel or steam engine, that receives and modifies energy as supplied by some natural source.
  2. means of towing a cannon, as an animal, truck, or tractor.
  3. Also called unmoved mover. Aristotelianism. that which is the first cause of all movement and does not itself move.
  4. a person or thing that initiates or gives power and cohesion to something, as an idea, endeavor, or organization.

Prime Mover



  1. the Prime Mover
    the Prime Mover philosophy God, esp when considered as a first cause

prime mover



  1. the original or primary force behind an idea, enterprise, etc
    1. the source of power, such as fuel, wind, electricity, etc, for a machine
    2. the means of extracting power from such a source, such as a steam engine, electric motor, etc
  2. (in the philosophy of Aristotle) that which is the cause of all movement

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Word History and Origins

Origin of prime mover1

First recorded in 1935–40

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Idioms and Phrases

The initial source of energy directed toward a goal, someone or something that sets others in motion. For example, Jean was the prime mover in getting us more laboratory space , or Patriotism was the prime mover of the revolution . [Late 1600s]

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Example Sentences

That spirit, the Columbia University professor suggested, “may even have been the prime mover in the development of language itself.”

From Time

He has been considered a kingmaker, a prime mover behind Republican candidates from Corbett to 2018’s GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner, as well as dozens more down-ballot candidates.

From Ozy

He was a prime mover behind the Saudi military intervention in Bahrain a year ago to smash an incipient Shia reform movement.

Leo is strategic, the queen on the chessboard, the prime mover of the zodiac.

Vestas has clearly been the prime mover in WindMade and they both deserve and have received credit for that.

The prime mover behind the show, Andy Valmorbida, who is now 30, moved with his family to Manhattan when he was in his mid teens.

In every direction but one he turns, and that is the direction where lies the prime mover of his toil, his subject.

Hookey, it seemed probable, was the prime mover; and I felt satisfied we should see him again.

That is true, too,—although I somehow think Merrick is the prime mover in this swindle.

If those shutters ever open I think you'll have to be the prime mover.

The prime mover in this case is evidently steam, an agent sufficiently powerful for the phenomena.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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