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[en-juh n] /ˈɛn dʒən/
a machine for converting thermal energy into mechanical energy or power to produce force and motion.
a railroad locomotive.
any mechanical contrivance.
a machine or instrument used in warfare, as a battering ram, catapult, or piece of artillery.
Obsolete. an instrument of torture, especially the rack.
1250-1300; Middle English engin < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin ingenium nature, innate quality, especially mental power, hence a clever invention, equivalent to in- in-2 + -genium, equivalent to gen- begetting (see kin) + -ium -ium
Related forms
engineless, adjective
multiengine, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for engine
  • They cranked up the four-cylinder gasoline engine that had been especially designed and built for the flying machine.
  • The core of a steam engine is a cylinder that is sealed at one end and has a moving piston at the other.
  • Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine.
  • The writer was trying to tell us that racing a cold engine would hasten the need for a tuneup.
  • The entrepreneurial spirit is still moving along, but its engine has been overhauled.
  • Before the plane lands, word comes that the engine is running smoothly.
  • There's an engine worth hundreds of thousands of dollars locked in this train.
  • And that no car produces any power output without an engine in it.
  • The engine block is cast iron because it requires half as much energy as aluminum to warm up.
  • For example, alterations had to be made to the engine and the fuel-filler door was moved.
British Dictionary definitions for engine


any machine designed to convert energy, esp heat energy, into mechanical work: a steam engine, a petrol engine
  1. a railway locomotive
  2. (as modifier): the engine cab
(military) any of various pieces of equipment formerly used in warfare, such as a battering ram or gun
(obsolete) any instrument or device: engines of torture
Word Origin
C13: from Old French engin, from Latin ingenium nature, talent, ingenious contrivance, from in-² + -genium, related to gignere to beget, produce
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 engine

c.1300, "mechanical device," also "skill, craft," from Old French engin "skill, cleverness," also "trick, deceit, stratagem; war machine" (12c.), from Latin ingenium "inborn qualities, talent" (see ingenious). At first meaning a trick or device, or any machine (especially military); sense of "device that converts energy to mechanical power" is 18c., especially of steam engines.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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engine in Science
A machine that turns energy into mechanical force or motion, especially one that gets its energy from a source of heat, such as the burning of a fuel. The efficiency of an engine is the ratio between the kinetic energy produced by the machine and the energy needed to produce it. See more at internal-combustion engine, steam engine., See also motor.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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engine in Technology
1. A piece of hardware that encapsulates some function but can't be used without some kind of front end. Today we have, especially, "print engine": the guts of a laser printer.
2. An analogous piece of software; notionally, one that does a lot of noisy crunching, such as a "database engine", or "search engine".
The hackish senses of "engine" are actually close to its original, pre-Industrial-Revolution sense of a skill, clever device, or instrument (the word is cognate to "ingenuity"). This sense had not been completely eclipsed by the modern connotation of power-transducing machinery in Charles Babbage's time, which explains why he named the stored-program computer that he designed in 1844 the "Analytical Engine".
[Jargon File]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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