Definition of motor in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈməʊtə/


1A machine, especially one powered by electricity or internal combustion, that supplies motive power for a vehicle or for another device with moving parts: these electric motors are highly reliable the sander has a smooth and powerful 520 watt motor
More example sentences
  • The steam engine had symbolized the First Industrial Revolution and the electric motor and internal combustion engine the Second.
  • Electricity powers the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle.
  • Instead of an engine, a stack of fuel cells and an electric motor will supply power - but you won't even see them.
1.1A source of power, energy, or motive force: hormones are the motor of the sexual functions
More example sentences
  • For example, the force generation by molecular motors has been studied as well as the mechanical properties of biopolymers.
  • Molecular motors generate force and motion by continually binding and breaking down energy-releasing molecules at a rate of about 100 molecules per second.
  • Atomic force microscopy and optical traps are used to probe cellular and subcellular forces, such as those of kinesin motors.
2British informal A car: we drove out in my motor
More example sentences
  • One can only respond enthusiastically to the idea that the compact, prestige Beemer represents a hot motor among people in their 70s.
  • Together since 1951, Peugeot and Pininfarina have created some of the most stylish mass-market motors of all time.
  • The motor vehicle driver should always allow at least a half-car-width between the bike and the motor.


1chiefly British Driven by a motor: a motor van
More example sentences
  • When the business expanded with the move to a larger premises in Leinster Street, his mode of transport changed and a motor van was provided.
  • He has a 1915 steam roller and a 1935 motor roller of his own, which he takes to the summer shows.
  • During the summer months the harbourmaster is responsible for more than 2000 moorings and has to deal with hundreds of day-sailors, big yachts and motor cruisers from all over Europe.
1.1Relating to motor vehicles: motor insurance
More example sentences
  • He eventually moved to the Daily Herald, where he made his name as a motoring and motor sports commentator, and later worked for the BBC.
  • Many older drivers resent the high cost of motor insurance - especially if they have never had an accident and do not use their cars very much.
  • The most expensive components of motoring are: financing the car, motor insurance and car tax.
2Giving or producing motion or action: demand is the principle motor force governing economic activity
More example sentences
  • It's being driven by the fact that creativity has become the economic motor force.
  • Germany is accustomed to thinking of itself as the motor force of European recovery rather than what it has become in recent times.
  • But the working class still exists and it will be the motor force of the transformation of society.
2.1 Physiology Relating to muscular movement or the nerves activating it: the motor functions of each hand
More example sentences
  • In the muscular dystrophies pharyngeal motor function is usually only moderately affected.
  • Her higher functions, cranial nerve examination, and motor and sensory examinations were all within normal limits.
  • Generally, the left side of the brain controls the motor movements of the right side of the body, and vice versa.


[no object, with adverbial of direction]
1Travel in a motor vehicle: they motored north up the M6
More example sentences
  • Here I find myself writing to the Richmond News again, first about the fires on the dyke and now about motorists motoring through red lights at pedestrian walks.
  • If I remember rightly, she did eventually go on to pass her test, and is now motoring around quite happily.
  • Looking like fugitives from a bankrupt circus, the platoon slowly motored down a narrow muddy road to rejoin Charlie Company.
1.1 informal Run or move as fast as possible: he had motored along to second base on a passed ball
More example sentences
  • How was I supposed to know that his little legs could motor so fast?
  • Armstrong followed his move a split second later, motoring around the others and up behind Beloki as if he were being winched out of a ditch.
  • Silver Star really motored from half way and she got up to take second place two lengths behind the winner and it was a similar distance back to Moonbeam in third.


Late Middle English (denoting a person who imparts motion): from Latin, literally 'mover', based on movere 'to move'. The current sense of the noun dates from the mid 19th century.

  • In early use a motor was a person who imparted motion. It derives from a Latin word meaning ‘mover’, based on movere ‘to move’. The current sense of the noun dates from the mid 19th century.

Words that rhyme with motor

bloater, boater, Botha, Dakota, doter, emoter, floater, gloater, iota, Kota, Minnesota, promoter, quota, rota, rotor, scoter, voter

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: motor

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