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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.



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.]
    • 1834, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara, volume 1, page 75:
      In France, the parliament soon became a mere engine in the hands of a few high-born and ambitious men, who had nothing in common with its interests, which were those of the people.
  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 termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  • 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)


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 readingEdit



Etymology 1Edit

From clipping of English engineering.




  1. (Hong Kong Cantonese) engineering industry; engineer
  2. (Hong Kong Cantonese, college slang) engineering
Alternative formsEdit
  • (Hong Kong Cantonese) N展 (en1 zin2)
  • (Hong Kong Cantonese) engin (en1 zin2)
See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From English engine.




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