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From Middle English mechanike (mechanic art), from Old French mecanique, from Latin mechanicus (of or belonging to machines or mechanics, inventive), from Ancient Greek μηχανικός (mēkhanikós, pertaining to machines or contrivance, mechanic, ingenious, inventive), from μηχανή (mēkhanḗ, a machine, contrivance); see machine.


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  1. (archaic) mechanical; relating to the laws of motion in the art of constructing things
    • Ray
      These mechanic philosophers.
    • Shakespeare
      Mechanic slaves, With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers.
  2. (obsolete) Of or relating to a mechanic or artificer, or to the class of artisans; hence, rude; common; vulgar.
    • Roscommon
      To make a god, a hero, or a king / Descend to a mechanic dialect.
    • Thomson
      Sometimes he ply'd the strong, mechanic tool.
  3. (obsolete) base
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Whitlock to this entry?)


mechanic (plural mechanics)

  1. (now chiefly historical) A manual worker; a labourer or artisan. [from 16th c.]
    • 1972, Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down, Folio Society, published 2016, page 77:
      The lower orders were freer than they had ever been – free […] to choose their own lay preachers, mechanics like the rest of the congregation.
  2. Someone who builds or repairs machinery, a technician; now specifically, someone who works with and repairs the mechanical parts of a motor vehicle, aircraft or similar. [from 17th c.]
  3. A device, command, or feature which allows someone to achieve a specific task. [from 20th c.]
    This game has a mechanic where if you run toward a ledge you automatically jump off rather than just falling.
  4. A hit man. [from 20th c.]

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