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[awl-ter-ney-ter, al-] /ˈɔl tərˌneɪ tər, ˈæl-/
noun, Electricity
a generator of alternating current.
Origin of alternator
1890-95; alternate + -or2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for alternator
  • At the same time, the alternator replaced the generator.
  • In its new line, the crank turns a mini transmission that drives an alternator to charge onboard batteries.
  • Yes it takes additional electricity to crack the water, but the car is generating a current via the alternator anyway.
  • When it is in an electric plant it is called a turbo-alternator.
  • The power is then fed into the car's electrical system to reduce the amount of load on the alternator.
  • The shaft is attached to an alternator that produces electricity.
  • When in fuel mode, the car's moto-alternator refills the tank with compressed air as the vehicle moves.
  • The alternator is connected to a battery bank via rectifier.
  • The unit shall be configured to consist of a liquid cooled engine and a conventional alternator and an electronic governor.
British Dictionary definitions for alternator


an electrical machine that generates an alternating current
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
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Word Origin and History for alternator

1878, agent noun in Latin form from alternate (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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alternator in Science
An electric generator that produces alternating current. The generator's coil is rotated (by a turbine, motor, or other power source), and its circular path causes it to cut cross a magnetic field (set up by strong magnets), first in one direction, then the other, with each cycle. The electric potential induced in the coil by this motion thus alternates between positive and negative once with each cycle, resulting in alternating current. See more at induction.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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