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motive power

any power used to impart motion; any source of mechanical energy.
Railroads. locomotives or other vehicles that supply tractive power.
Origin of motive power
1615-25 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for motive-power
Historical Examples
  • The greatest complexity in the world attends the motive-power of any action.

    The Portion of Labor Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • The ideal of the rose was the motive-power of the whole process.

    The Heart of Nature Francis Younghusband
  • The motive-power is obtained by the generation and expansion, by heat, of carbonic acid gas.

  • He saw her object, but could not guess the motive-power behind.

    The Californians Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
  • From such a motive-power as this can come no parade of results.

    The Underground Railroad William Still
  • None will be allowed to negotiate the locks under its own motive-power.

    The Panama Canal J. Saxon Mills
  • What a lot of motive-power is wasted by those who jolly other people along.

  • It has abundance of sunshine as a motive-power of growth, and abundance of air from which to extract the carbon that it needs.

  • It was erected in a day when the railroad was just graduating from the use of teams of horses as motive-power.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
  • Her freight was all human, Nature was her mistress, and the love of Nature her inspiration and motive-power.

British Dictionary definitions for motive-power

motive power

any source of energy used to produce motion
the means of supplying power to an engine, vehicle, etc
any driving force
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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