steam engine



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.

Origin of steam engine

First recorded in 1745–55
Related formssteam-en·gine, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for steam-engine

Historical Examples of steam-engine

  • No; the steam-engine is the better thing, for it has the soul of a man in it, and the flower has no soul at all.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • If God be not, then steam-engine and flower are in the same category.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Let us suppose ourselves to be in a building in which a steam-engine is at work.

    The Machinery of the Universe

    Amos Emerson Dolbear

  • He leaves it to the specialist, which is as if he should leave his dinner to be eaten by a steam-engine.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • Talk of a deer, the wind, or a steam-engine—they are not to be compared with it.

    Among the Pines

    James R. Gilmore

British Dictionary definitions for steam-engine



an engine that uses the thermal energy of steam to produce mechanical work, esp one in which steam from a boiler is expanded in a cylinder to drive a reciprocating piston
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

Word Origin and History for steam-engine

steam engine


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

steam-engine in Science

steam engine

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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.