engine

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English[edit]

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An automobile engine
A miniature train engine

Etymology[edit]

From Anglo-Norman engine, Old French engin (skill, cleverness, war machine), from Latin ingenium (innate or natural quality, nature, genius, a genius, an invention, in Late Latin a war-engine, battering-ram), from ingenitum, past participle of ingignere (to instil by birth, implant, produce in). Compare gin, ingenious.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

engine (plural engines)

  1. (obsolete) Ingenuity; cunning, trickery, guile. [13th-17th c.]
  2. (obsolete) The result of cunning; something ingenious, a contrivance; (in negative senses) a plot, a scheme. [13th-18th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.i:
      Therefore this craftie engine he did frame, / Against his praise to stirre vp enmitye [...].
  3. (obsolete) Natural talent; genius. [14th-17th c.]
  4. Anything used to effect a purpose; any device or contrivance; an agent.
    • Bunyan
      You see the ways the fisherman doth take / To catch the fish; what engines doth he make?
    • Shakespeare
      Their promises, enticements, oaths, tokens, and all these engines of lust.
  5. A large construction used in warfare, such as a battering ram, catapult etc. [from 14th c.]
  6. (now archaic) A tool; a utensil or implement. [from 14th c.]
    • 1714, Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees:
      Flattery must be the most powerful Argument that cou'd be used to Human Creatures. Making use of this bewitching Engine, they extoll'd the Excellency of our Nature above other Animals [...].
  7. A complex mechanical device which converts energy into useful motion or physical effects. [from 16th c.]
  8. A person or group of people which influence a larger group; a driving force. [from 16th c.]
  9. The part of a car or other vehicle which provides the force for motion, now especially one powered by internal combustion. [from 19th c.]
  10. A self-powered vehicle, especially a locomotive, used for pulling cars along a track. [from 19th c.]
  11. (computing) A software or hardware system responsible for a specific technical task (usually with qualifying word). [from 20th c.]
    a graphics engine; a physics engine

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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Verb[edit]

engine (third-person singular simple present engines, present participle engining, simple past and past participle engined)

  1. (obsolete) To assault with an engine.
    • (Can we date this quote?) T. Adams.
      To engine and batter our walls.
  2. (dated) To equip with an engine; said especially of steam vessels.
    Vessels are often built by one firm and engined by another.
  3. (obsolete) To rack; to torture.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)

External links[edit]