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[moh-ter] /ˈmoʊ tər/
a comparatively small and powerful engine, especially an internal-combustion engine in an automobile, motorboat, or the like.
any self-powered vehicle.
a person or thing that imparts motion, especially a contrivance, as a steam engine, that receives and modifies energy from some natural source in order to utilize it in driving machinery.
Also called electric motor. Electricity. a machine that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, as an induction motor.
motors, stocks or bonds in automobile companies.
pertaining to or operated by a motor.
of, for, by, or pertaining to motor vehicles:
motor freight.
designed or for automobiles, their drivers, or their passengers:
The hotel has a motor lobby in its parking garage for picking up and discharging passengers.
causing or producing motion.
Physiology. conveying an impulse that results or tends to result in motion, as a nerve.
Psychology, Physiology. Also, motoric. of, relating to, or involving muscular movement:
a motor response; motor images.
verb (used without object)
to ride or travel in an automobile; drive:
They motored up the coast.
verb (used with object)
Chiefly British. to drive or transport by car:
He motored his son to school.
Origin of motor
1580-90; < Latin mōtor mover, equivalent to mō- (variant stem of movēre to move) + -tor -tor
Related forms
multimotor, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for motor
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I chose to go by motor thinking it would be quicker, but alas!

  • Much of the efficiency of the motor is due to the form and gearing of the propeller.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • The Gnome motor was lying on the ground twenty feet from the wreckage.

  • For example, there is neither an intake or exhaust manifold on the motor.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • His prop had broken and torn his motor clear out of his ship.

    Test Pilot David Goodger (
British Dictionary definitions for motor


  1. the engine, esp an internal-combustion engine, of a vehicle
  2. (as modifier): a motor scooter
Also called electric motor. a machine that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy by means of the forces exerted on a current-carrying coil placed in a magnetic field
any device that converts another form of energy into mechanical energy to produce motion
an indispensable part or player that moves a process or system along
  1. (mainly Brit) a car or other motor vehicle
  2. as modifier: motor spares
producing or causing motion
  1. of or relating to nerves or neurons that carry impulses that cause muscles to contract
  2. of or relating to movement or to muscles that induce movement
(intransitive) to travel by car
(transitive) (Brit) to transport by car
(intransitive) (informal) to move fast; make good progress
(transitive) to motivate
Word Origin
C16: from Latin mōtor a mover, from movēre to move
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 motor

mid-15c., "controller, prime mover," from Latin motor, literally "mover," agent noun from past participle stem of movere "to move" (see move (v.)). From 15c. as "controller, prime mover" (in reference to God); sense of "agent or force that produces mechanical motion" is first recorded 1660s; that of "machine that supplies motive power" is from 1856. First record of slang motor-mouth "fast-talking person" is from 1970.


1896, from motor (n.). Related: Motored; motoring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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motor in Medicine

motor mo·tor (mō'tər)

  1. Causing or producing motion.

  2. Of or being nerves that carry impulses from the nerve centers to the muscles.

  3. Involving or relating to movements of the muscles.

  4. Of or relating to an organism's overt reaction to a stimulus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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motor in Science
Noun  A machine that uses energy, such as electric or chemical energy (as from burning a fuel), to produce mechanical motion. See also engine.

Adjective  Involving the muscles or the nerves that are connected to them. Compare sensory.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for motor



An amphetamine, esp Methedrine2; speed: ''What's motor? Speed?'' ''Un huh'' (1990s+ Narcotics)


  1. To perform well and without apparent effort; cruise: Agassi is motoring through the match (1970s+)
  2. To leave; boogie, book, split: I have to motor if I want to be ready for the funeral (1980s+ Teenagers)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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