prime mover

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Originally in translation of Latin primum mobile.


prime mover (plural prime movers)

  1. (philosophy) The initial agent that is the cause of all things.
    • 1912, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World[1]:
      "I need not remind this audience that, though Professor Summerlee, as the head of the Committee of Investigation, has been put up to speak to-night, still it is I who am the real prime mover in this business, and that it is mainly to me that any successful result must be ascribed."
  2. A machine, such as a water wheel or steam engine, that receives and modifies energy as supplied by some natural source or fuel and transforms it into mechanical work
  3. (automotive) The front part of a semi-trailer type truck, i.e., the tractor to which the trailer part attaches.
  4. (US) A military or heavy construction vehicle.
  5. A person or thing that is seminal and influential.
    • 1986, R. Serge Denisoff, Tarnished Gold (page 381)
      Seeger was a prime mover in the folk-music revival and was accepted by collegians and young people outside the South, regardless of his alleged Communist sympathies []