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An automobile engine
A miniature railway engine


From Middle English engyn, 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 ingignō (to instil by birth, implant, produce in). Compare gin, ingenious, engineer.



engine (plural engines)

  1. A large construction used in warfare, such as a battering ram, catapult etc. [from 14th c.]
  2. (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 [...].
    • 1733, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Man. [], epistle I, London: Printed for J[ohn] Wilford, [], OCLC 960856019, lines 248–251, page 15:
      What if the Foot, ordain'd the duſt to tread, / Or Hand, to toil, aſpir'd to be the Head? / What if the Head, the Eye, or Ear repin'd / To ſerve mere Engines to the ruling Mind?
  3. A complex mechanical device which converts energy into useful motion or physical effects. [from 16th c.]
  4. A person or group of people which influence a larger group; a driving force. [from 16th c.]
  5. The part of a car or other vehicle which provides the force for motion, now especially one powered by internal combustion. [from 19th c.]
  6. A self-powered vehicle, especially a locomotive, used for pulling cars along a track. [from 19th c.]
  7. (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
  8. (obsolete) Ingenuity; cunning, trickery, guile. [13th–17th c.]
  9. (obsolete) The result of cunning; something ingenious, a contrivance; (in negative senses) a plot, a scheme. [13th–18th c.]
  10. (obsolete) Natural talent; genius. [14th–17th c.]
  11. Anything used to effect a purpose; any device or contrivance; an agent.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • Afrikaans: enjin
  • Bashkir: ইঞ্জিন (ইঞ্জিন)
  • Hindi: इंजन (iñjan)
  • Japanese: エンジン
    • Hakka: 引擎 (ên-chín)
    • Min Nan: 引擎 (ia̋n-jín)
  • Malay: enjin
  • Scottish Gaelic: einnsean
  • Swedish: injini
  • Shanghainese: 引擎 (in¹-jin⁶)
    • Chinese: 引擎 (yǐnqíng)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


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

  1. (transitive, dated) To equip with an engine; said especially of steam vessels.
    Vessels are often built by one firm and engined by another.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To assault with an engine.
    • 1629, Thomas Adams, Plain-Dealing
      to engine and batter our walls
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To contrive; to put into action.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To rack; to torture.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)
    • Quoted in 1977, Virginia Brown (ed.), Mediaeval Studies (volume XXXIX), Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, Canada
      In the year 1433 a merchant complained to Commons that the lord of the port city of Gildo in Brittany had imprisoned a servant of his ‘and engined him so that he was in point of death’ (Rot. pari. 4.475).

Further reading[edit]



Alternative forms[edit]

  • (Hong Kong Cantonese) N展 (en1 zin2)
  • (Hong Kong Cantonese) engin (en1 zin2)

Etymology 1[edit]

From clipping of English engineering.




  1. (Hong Kong Cantonese) engineering industry; engineer
  2. (Hong Kong Cantonese, university slang) engineering

Etymology 2[edit]

From English engine.




  1. (Hong Kong Cantonese) engine (mechanical device; part of a vehicle; computing)
  • (engine):