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Engines and Motors
Old 06-17-2007, 07:45 AM   #1
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Engines and Motors

It isnít my intention to start another debate as to whether or not it is correct to refer to the power plant in an automobile as a motor instead of an engine. Iím prepared to concede that dictionaries and engineers generally define them as synonymous. Itís also clear to me that almost everyone in the automotive media, verbally or in print uses the term motor to describe the thing that makes the car go.

I know that this has not always been the case. In my youth cars and trucks and aircraft had engines. Even motorcycles used engines. The term outboard motor was used too, but as soon as the actual power source was discussed, it became an engine. Motors were things for sewing machines, windshield wipers and electric trolley cars.

I still remember the first time someone said to me that he ďbroke the motor in his carĒ. It was difficult not to laugh in at him. I know that when I later told my friends about it we all did laugh.

It still bothers me a lot when someone says motor instead of engine. I mean it really makes me cringe.

When did this change in usage take place?
WHY did it happen?
How can I learn to live with it and overcome this hang-up?
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Old 06-17-2007, 08:00 AM   #2
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Just to add to your hangup, all this has been brought to you by;

General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Honda Motor Company and many others.

And if you want to repair your automobile engine, you might have to consult a Motor's Repair Manual.
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Old 06-17-2007, 08:18 AM   #3
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Cantlogin, with all the world's problems, you choose to fret over this?

Perhaps you'd be more productive if you focused on something more profound. For example, why don't poor people have a better sense of fashion?
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Old 06-17-2007, 08:42 AM   #4
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Then we have the peculiar historical fact that Engine Charlie Wilson was chairman of General Motors.

Or how about this- though as noted above many people use the term motor for an IC engine, I at least have never heard anyone refer to the electric motor on his table saw as an engine.

Ha
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Old 06-17-2007, 09:56 AM   #5
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Furnaces and boilers. We have a boiler in our house, not a furnace.

Buffalo and Bison. We have bison out west, not buffalo.

What are you gonna do.

We have a diesel fueled car; I am still resistant to saying we need to go get gas. But who wants to say I am almost out of fuel oil?
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Old 06-17-2007, 10:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Furnaces and boilers. We have a boiler in our house, not a furnace.
I have a boiler in the house.

But if I use the word 'boiler' people often don't know what I'm talking about.
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Old 06-17-2007, 10:25 AM   #7
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Please, no more debates about this. It's covered in detail at

EngineOrMotor.com
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Old 06-17-2007, 11:50 AM   #8
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It isn’t my intention to start another debate...

When did this change in usage take place?
WHY did it happen?
How can I learn to live with it and overcome this hang-up?

Cantlogin, with all the world's problems, you choose to fret over this?

Perhaps you'd be more productive if you focused on something more profound. For example, why don't poor people have a better sense of fashion?



Thanks REWahoo. That helps a little. There really are better things to worry about, but being productive certainly is NOT one of them.

It seems to me that in some circles it is fashionable to dress in clothing that appears to have been recycled several times.
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Old 06-17-2007, 11:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Please, no more debates about this. It's covered in detail at

EngineOrMotor.com

Hornymanatee
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Old 06-17-2007, 02:50 PM   #10
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I have the same problem when people call concrete, cement. It makes me cringe.

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Old 06-17-2007, 03:21 PM   #11
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Hot water heater...
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Old 06-17-2007, 03:56 PM   #12
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Hot water heater...
As opposed to cold water heater (which is technically more accurate)?

I didn't hear that term 'til I left home. My parents called it a water heater.
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Old 06-17-2007, 05:18 PM   #13
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I have the same problem when people call concrete, cement. It makes me cringe.
Yeah, that really ticks me off too. Jeepers Murphy already!
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Old 06-17-2007, 05:44 PM   #14
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ATM machine
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Old 06-18-2007, 12:29 AM   #15
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....I know that this has not always been the case. In my youth cars and trucks and aircraft had engines. Even motorcycles used engines. The term outboard motor was used too, but as soon as the actual power source was discussed, it became an engine. Motors were things for sewing machines, windshield wipers and electric trolley cars.

I still remember the first time someone said to me that he ďbroke the motor in his carĒ. It was difficult not to laugh in at him. I know that when I later told my friends about it we all did laugh.

It still bothers me a lot when someone says motor instead of engine. I mean it really makes me cringe.

When did this change in usage take place?
WHY did it happen?
How can I learn to live with it and overcome this hang-up?
Why did it happen? Stupidity, that's how. People of low brain power started the "motor" instead of "engine" usage. And it slowly caught on among others of low BP, then spread out across the land. I know of no Engineers who are skilled in the arts that refer to the ICE as a "motor". Referring to an ICE as a "motor" marks one as either being dumb or just not knowing better.

"General Motors", "Ford Motor Co." and the like are not examples of an engine being called a motor. The word "motor" in those names is for the finished product, a thing that moves, which is what motor means, to move.

My Uncle, who was an engine designer many years ago, had a name for people who said "motor" instead of "engine" when referring to ICEs. He called them &*# @#@% stupid $&*#! He was always a very descriptive man.

Your usage is correct! Keep it up!

So far, I haven't heard this one... yet!:

Why was your flight late?
Aw, they had trouble wit da jet motor

For people who think names don't matter... I'd never send you to buy a horse, no telling what you'd come back with
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Old 06-18-2007, 05:03 AM   #16
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Thanks for addressing my WHY question Telly. Iím inclined to explain it that way too, but that usage is so widespread among people who should know better that Iím seeking an alternate rationale. I canít remember the last time that I read a magazine article where the word engine was used where I would have liked to see it.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:22 AM   #17
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The one that get's my goat: when someone points to a portable consumer device and says - 'it doesn't use electricity - it uses batteries'.

Ahhhh! Batteries provide electricity - it's what they do. Plugging in the wall is just a different form of electricity (AC vs DC - usually converted to DC for the device anyhow).

It would be like saying that a diesel truck does not use 'fuel', because it does not use gasoline.

-ERD50
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:34 AM   #19
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I don't know why you guys are bothered by these minor things.

An aquaintance of mine once told me years ago that he wanted to buy a perpetual machine to continously generates power without needing any kind of fuel at all. I told him that if such thing exits, this world would become a paradise, there would be no wars, no famines. I could not convince him, so I dropped the issue, but it still bothers me today.
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