Definition of rev in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /rɛv/


(usually revs)
1A revolution of an engine per minute: an engine speed of 1,750 revs
More example sentences
  • A petrol engine will spin happily, in some cases to 8,000 or 9,000 revs per minute.
  • Equally, there are no very slow corners which see the engine operating at very low revs, meaning the rev range required is also within our normal limits.
  • It responds to high revs and comes alive as the red rev counter homes in on the 8,000 rpm redline.
1.1An act of increasing the speed of revolution of a vehicle’s engine by pressing the accelerator: she started it up with a violent rev of the engine
More example sentences
  • It sounded like a generator or the engine of a diesel truck but with a deeper sound and intervals that were not as fast as you would hear from the revs of an idle engine.
  • Firmly strapped into the bucket seat next to Chris, in one rev of the engine and a massive cloud of dust, we were off, hurtling over rocks and ditches.
  • We were all nearly asleep when I heard the rev of a motor, the squeal of wheels.

verb (revs, revving, revved)

[with object]
1Increase the running speed of (an engine) or the engine speed of (a vehicle) by pressing the accelerator, especially while the clutch is disengaged: he revved up the engine and drove off
More example sentences
  • He was out there starting each vehicle and revving the engines, letting them idle.
  • To get some tire-spinning momentum at the start, the engine had to be revved up and the clutch pedal banged out.
  • She expected him to follow, but then she heard the engine to his car being revved up, he then turned the vehicle and drove away in an alarmingly high speed.
1.1 [no object] (Of an engine) operate with increasing speed when the accelerator is pressed, especially while the clutch is disengaged: he could hear the sound of an engine revving nearby
More example sentences
  • The enormous crowd around the enclosure was screaming cheerily, the car engines were revving up and the propane was spitting menacing proportions of heat.
  • The sound effects of the car's engines revving up and down is okay, but doesn't provide the high-decibel wow it could.
  • From the darkened bar from which I dictate this missive, I can hear the starter engines revving up!
1.2Make or become more active or energetic: [no object]: he’s revving up for next week’s World Cup game [with object]: we need to rev up the economy
More example sentences
  • The binding efficiency index comes out to just under 12, which is nothing to get revved up about.
  • You can also pop in an exercise video to get revved up.
  • Now you're revved up to move forward on projects.


Early 20th century: abbreviation of revolution.

  • revolve from Late Middle English:

    The Latin verb volvere had the sense ‘to turn round, roll, tumble’; add re- in front and you get meaning such as ‘turn back, turn round’. This is the basic idea behind revolve and its offshoots: revolution (Late Middle English) which only came to mean the overthrow of a government in 1600, and which developed the form rev for the turning over of a motor in the early 20th century; and revolt (mid 16th century) initially used politically, and developing the sense ‘to make someone turn away in disgust’ in the mid 18th century. The sense ‘roll, tumble’ of volvere developed into vault, both for the sense ‘leap’ (mid 16th century) which came via Old French volter ‘to turn (a horse), gambol’, and for the arch that springs up to form a roof (Middle English). The turning sense is found in voluble (Middle English) initially used to mean ‘turning’, but was used for words rolling out of the mouth by the late 16th century, and in volume (Late Middle English) originally a rolled scroll rather than a book, but with the sense ‘quantity’ coming from an obsolete meaning ‘size or extent (of a book)’ by the early 16th century. Convoluted (late 18th century) comes from convolvere ‘rolled together, intertwined’ (the plant convolvulus, from the same root, that climbs by turning its stem around a support already existed as a word in Latin, where it could also mean a caterpillar that rolls itself up in a leaf); while devolve (Late Middle English) comes from its opposite devolvere ‘to unroll, roll down’; and involve (Late Middle English) from involvere ‘to roll in’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: rev

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.