from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A device containing a usually spherical chamber or container, in which steam is heated and ejected through one or more narrow tubes to create propulsion or torque.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A form of blast-lamp for use in chemical laboratories, in which an alcohol flame is deflected by a stream of alcohol vapor escaping from a jet, this vapor being produced from liquid alcohol in a little boiler over the original flame.
  • noun An instrument illustrating the expansive force of steam generated in a closed vessel, and escaping by a narrow aperture, said to have been invented by Hero of Alexandria in the second century b. c.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An apparatus consisting chiefly of a closed vessel (as a globe or cylinder) with one or more projecting bent tubes, through which steam is made to pass from the vessel, causing it to revolve.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun a steam engine powered by rocket propulsion due to escaping steam; which consists of a pressure vessel mounted on a bearing, with one or more tubes which exhaust steam tangentially to the rotation axis thus creating rotation.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French éolipyle, from Latin Aeoli pylae ("doorway of Aeolus").


  • What Sharkey found was that Hero, who had designed everything from the aeolipile (the world's first steam-engine, see picture above) to "a vending machine that dispensed a shot of holy water in exchange for a coin," had designed a mobile theatre, complete with Dionysus and some female worshippers, all automata, which came in on a sort of self-propelled, self-guided cart.

    Automata in the Ancient World

  • If you look at the fact that there are more than ten times the number of people alive today than in da Vinci's time (and less before that), it is no wonder that this innate intelligence did not catch fire, and Hero's steam-powered aeolipile (for example) remained a curiosity.

    Automata in the Ancient World

  • Such is the vehemence of these attacks, that the unfortunate subjects of them are often driven backwards for great distances at immense speed, on the well-known principle of the aeolipile.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Works

  • They produced the screw, the ratchet, the water wheel and the aeolipile, better known as Hero's turbine.

    Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium - Recent changes [en]

  • Freely is far from alone in describing Hero's steam-driven aeolipile as a "steam engine," but I disapprove of this term.

    The Brussels Journal - The Voice of Conservatism in Europe

  • Hey there aeolipile .. now, now you'll be alright.

    Yahoo! Sports - Top News


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  • The things people got up to before "American Idol"...

    November 8, 2007

  • Originally used to describe a device, invented in the second century BC, in which a closed, water-filled vessel, when heated, was made to rotate by jets of steam issuing from one or more projecting, bent tubes. First described by Hero of Alexandria, but most surviving aeolipiles are Islamic. Sometimes spelled eolipile.

    November 8, 2007