• synonyms

steam engine

  1. an engine worked by steam, typically one in which a sliding piston in a cylinder is moved by the expansive action of the steam generated in a boiler.
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Origin of steam engine

First recorded in 1745–55
Related formssteam-en·gine, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Word Origin and History for steam engine


1751; earlier in the same sense was fire engine, atmospheric engine.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

steam engine in Science

steam engine

  1. An engine in which the energy of hot steam is converted into mechanical power, especially an engine in which the force of expanding steam is used to drive one or more pistons. The source of the steam is typically external to the part of the machine that converts the steam energy into mechanical energy. Compare internal-combustion engine.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.