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Difference Between Engine and Motor

Engine vs Motor


The word “engine” comes from the Latin word “ingenium.” An engine is a device or system (electrical, mechanical, chemical, or even social, human, or political) which effects a result. For instance, a bomb is an engine, a crane is an engine, a water-powered mill is an engine, a political party is also an engine, and even a criminal gang is an engine. Gradually through the decades, “engine” became associated especially with boilers, fire, furnaces, and bombs. In short, any device which tended to get hot and explode. However, the system was still considered to be an “engine” and not just the prime mover. In the 20th century, a motor prime mover was called “the engine.” James Watt put the name “steam” in front of the engine to distinguish it from other engines of that time.

Engines are basically the devices which convert any form of energy to bring about mechanical effects. These are made up of pistons and cylinders. These may be categorized into various groups according to their function. An electrical engine is a device that converts electrical energy to mechanical energy; a device converting heat energy to mechanical energy is called combustion engines. Similarly, an engine making use of pressurized fluids is termed as an hydraulic engine.


Originally, “motor” was another word for “mover,” i.e., a thing which moves the rest of the device. “Motor” did not originate from “electric motor.” Long ago, motors were powered by wound springs. Faraday put the word “electric” in front of “motor” to distinguish it from other motors of that time.

The present-day motor, called the electric motor, is a device that converts the electrical energy to mechanical energy. The electric motor can be broadly categorized into two classes; the AC motor and the DC motor. The AC motor is driven by AC current, and the DC motor is run by DC electricity. Both of these may further be divided into various types depending on the power rating, horsepower, etc.


1.A motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy while an engine converts various other forms of energy to mechanical energy.
2.An engine is a mechanical device that uses a fuel source to create an output.
3.The word “engine” is generally used to refer to a reciprocating engine (steam or internal combustion) while “motor” is generally used to refer to a rotating device such as an electric motor.
4.An engine is made up of pistons and cylinders while a motor is made up of rotors and stators.

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  1. So GM (General Motors) and BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) have had it wrong for 100 years.

    I don’t think so. In fact, I KNOW better.

  2. “4.An engine is made up of pistons and cylinders while a motor is made up of rotors and stators.”

    So a turbine engine is a turbine motor that has not read: “An engine is a mechanical device that uses a fuel source to create an output.”

  3. This is wrong. Don’t bother reading this.

    Engines are a type of motor. It’s just not good practice to refer to them that way to avoid confusion.

  4. We need to bring the two words, motor and engine, into the 21st century by nationally updating their meaning. I cannot think of a way to do this unless the president declares it. Here’s an example why I feel this way.

    I ride my new recreational electric scooter on the bike path near my home. I can’t walk that well, so this is the only source of getting around outside I have. It’s not any faster than a bike and it has good lighting and a horn. I always wear a helmet.

    This bike path intersects with many roads. At each intersection, there is a sign facing the roadway that reads “NO MOTOR VEHICLES”. This is obviously to keep cars and motorcycles off the bike path for safety. What the signs needs to read is, “NO ENGINE POWERED VEHICLES ALLOWED”.

    Due to the advancing state of electric motor technology, electric two-wheeled vehicles are becoming plentiful. Owners of these slower recreational electric vehicles should be allowed to ride on bike paths, but unfortunately, some walkers who are on the path talk at me “no motor vehicles allowed” like they’re trying to correct this horrible wrong. If we could just all get on board with this at the same time, it should be no harder than adopting Daylight Savings Time or a new Presidents ways.


    BTW, I’m not suggesting Ford Motor Company, The Department of Motor Vehicles, General Motors, etc. change their names unless they want to. Just clarify the legal meaning of these two words.

  5. Whoever wrote this needs needs to check out the “DifferenceBetween” the words “that” and “which.” You’re wrong on almost every one in this article.

  6. a motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy whereas an engine converts distinct type forms of the energy into mechanical energy…

    • a motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy whereas an engine converts distinct type forms of the energy into mechanical energy…

      an engine is made up of pistons and cylinders while a motor is consists of stators and rotors

      • A motor (electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic) uses a separate outside generated source of power (electricity, hydraulic pressure, air pressure) to cause motion (work) to occur.

        An engine (internal combustion, external combustion) converts fuel/air into heat, then converts that heat to cause motion (work) to occur.

        The basic difference is a motor needs an external source of power, where an engine uses a fuel/air combustion to create it’s own power. An engine is NOT a motor, a motor is NOT an engine!

  7. if posible why don’t you provide us diagrams of both engine and motor?

  8. I asked the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine. I know there is a difference, my father was a fire department engineer (he drove) and told me the difference but I’m not sure I remember correctly. Seems like you should know the answer.

  9. In checking the definition of Motor in all the major dictionaries you folks definition was quite different. In Webster/Oxford/etc I found that a motor is any means that is used to propel machinery be it electric or fuel or any other means. However an engine requires combustion and therefor cannot be an engine. The rest of the websites chocked this subject up to symantics in that both are correct when used with regards to combustion motors be it internal or external combustion, however electric engine is not a term which is used.

    • In my last comment clarification regarding an engine requires combustion therefor an electric motor cannot be an engine. that is what I meant to say.

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