Online Encyclopedia

ENGINE (Lat. ingenium)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 406 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ENGINE (Lat. ingenium) , a term which in the time of Chaucer had the meaning of " natural talent " or " ability," corresponding to the Latin from which it is derived (cf. " A man hath sapiences thre, Memorie, engin, and intellect also," Second Nun's Tale, 339) ; in this sense it is now obsolete. It also denoted a mechanical tool or contrivance, and especially a weapon of war; this use may be compared with that of ingenium in classical Latin to mean a clever idea or device, and in later Latin, as in Tertullian, for a warlike instrument or machine. In the 19th century it came to have, when employed alone, a specific reference to the steam-engine (q.v.), but it is also used of other prime movers such as the air-engine, gas-engine and oil-engine (qq.v.).
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