View Full Version : viva la difference
11-24-2003, 07:36 AM
:) GOOD MORNING;
My question is :What is the difference between a motor and an engine?:confused:
11-24-2003, 07:48 AM
A motor is something that creates motion.
An engine is something that generally performs a specified task or process - in the case of vehicles, the engine is also a motor (because 'move the vehicle' is the specified task), but in the case of Charles Babbage, the engine was a machine that performed the specified task of mathematic calculation (or it would have done if he had built it).
Or in the case of computer games, part of the software may be described as a graphics 'engine' - the specified task is to render pixels on the display unit.
11-24-2003, 08:52 AM
Mangetout has the linguistically technically correct answer.
In the olden days of the 1800s the term "engine" meant about the same idea as "mechanism" or "machine" or "device" means now. e.g. a gizmo that made cloth was called a weaving engine, despite the fact it was human-powered.
In common parlance nowadays when dealing with moving machinery, an engine burns chemical fuel directly to create motion, while a motor translates some other energy source (electricity, hydraulic pressure, wind, etc) into motion.
That's the mainstream answer, although there is, as always in English, a little fuzziness around the edges.
11-24-2003, 09:38 AM
For the future, may I recomend slightly more descriptive thread titles?
(And because this is SDMB, I have to nitpick and say that it ought to be 'vive la difference')
Originally posted by NadaHappyCamper
My question is :What is the difference between a motor and an engine?:confused: This is an old question, and if you search the archive, I'm sure that you will find that there is no clear distinction between the two.
While Mangetout's answer is very appealing, unfortunately it's not the entire truth.
A good article trying to describe the origins and usages of the two words is this one (http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/engine.htm), by Michael Quinion, over at worldwidewords. Quoting som of it:In everyday, non-technical usage the words have much the same meaning. But they have such clearly defined and fixed compounds (except in the rocket case) that they canít be thought of as entirely interchangeable. The magazine article argues that the difference is that engines contain their own fuel or are part of a highly integrated engine-fuel system, whereas a motor draws on externally supplied energy. Thatís the rule given in the Oxford English Dictionary, but on reflection it seems not wholly satisfactory. It doesnít work for outboard motor or rocket motor for example.
Do read the rest of the article though - it's well written.
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