General English


  • noun a machine which provides power for moving a vehicle or device with moving parts

Cars & Driving

  • noun a motor car



  • adjective referring to movement, which produces movement


  • adjective relating to muscle activity, especially voluntary muscle activity, and the consequent body movements


  • verb to travel in a car for pleasure

Origin & History of “motor”

The most direct English descendant of Latin movēre ‘move’ is of course move, but several more have found their way into the language via derivatives. From mōtiō ‘movement’ comes motion (15th c.) (and its collateral forms commotion (15th c.), emotion, and promotion (15th c.)); from mōtīvus ‘causing to move’ come motivate (19th c.), motive (14th c.), and (via modern French) motif (19th c.); and mōtor ‘mover’ has given motor. Originally this was used for the rather generalized notion of a ‘moving force’; the modern application to an ‘engine’ did not emerge until the mid-19th century. also from movēre come English moment and mutiny.