Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One regarded as the initial source of energy directed toward a goal: Patriotism was the prime mover of the revolution.
  • n. The initial force, such as electricity, wind, or gravity, that engages or moves a machine.
  • n. A machine or mechanism that converts natural energy into work. Also called primum mobile.
  • n. Any of various heavy-duty trucks or tractors.
  • n. Philosophy In Aristotelian philosophy, the self-moved being that causes all motion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The initial agent that is the cause of all things.
  • n. A machine, such as a water wheel or steam engine, that receives and modifies energy as supplied by some natural source or fuel and transforms it into mechanical work
  • n. The front part of a semi-trailer type truck, i.e., the tractor to which the trailer part attaches.
  • n. A military or heavy construction vehicle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. The original or the most effective force in any undertaking or work.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an agent that is the cause of all things but does not itself have a cause

Etymologies

Originally in translation of Latin primum mobile. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Svenson had assumed Vandaariff to be the plot’s prime mover — for not two days before the man had quite deliberately manipulated him away from Trapping’s body.

    The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

  • Messmer, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the prime mover and leading spirit of the Federation.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Fathers of the Church-Gregory XI

  • From the idea that God is the primal cause (causa prima) and the prime mover (motor primus), it is concluded that every act and every movement of the thoroughly contingent secondary causes (causae secundae) or creatures must emanate from the first cause, and that by the application of their potentiality to the act.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Fathers of the Church-Gregory XI

  • In close juxtaposition repose the mortal remains of Marcus Tullius Cicero and the Constable Bourbon, who appeared at wide intervals upon this world's stage and with no trait in common save the "sacra fames auri," which was the moving principle of both, each became in his own way a prime mover on its chess board.

    Recollections and reflections : an auto of half a century and more,

  • Mr. Holden is regarded by the Conservatives of the State as the prime mover in all the political crimes with which he was charged.

    Memoirs of W. W. Holden,

  • Conceivably, as I have stated, the Muscovy Company, a much interested party, was the prime mover in the seizure of Hudson out of the Dutch service.

    Henry Hudson

  • Lucius Appuleius Saturninus was the prime mover behind the premature rise in the price of grain which had prevented the Treasury’s acquiring additional stocks for the State granaries at anything like a reasonable price, said Scaurus Princeps Senatus to a hushed House.

    The First Man in Rome

  • And since he was sure that it was God's grace that had been his prime mover on that way, it was a spontaneous expression of his heart that cast his self-recollection into the form of a sustained prayer to God.

    Confessions and Enchiridion, newly translated and edited by Albert C. Outler

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