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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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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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