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Q: Fire engine to Steam engine ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Fire engine to Steam engine
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: kemlo-ga
List Price: $2.02
Posted: 22 Mar 2003 01:50 PST
Expires: 21 Apr 2003 02:50 PDT
Question ID: 179485
Could any one tell me the term steam engine came into general usage. 
In very early litrature (1750-90) the engine was called a "fire
engine" because that was the most visiable aspect. Simple lincs will
Subject: Re: Fire engine to Steam engine
Answered By: jeanwil-ga on 22 Mar 2003 08:00 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi kemlo-ga,

Here are some websites that I hope will prove useful in your search.

How steam engine work

Thomas Savery - The Miners Friend - Or An Engine To Raise Water By

History of steam engine

Early steam engines
- 1690 - 1840 -

The History
of the
First Locomotives In America

So the steam engine was first called a fire engine.

History of fire engine
"Alexander Bonner Latta invented the first practical fire engine, a
"steam" engine, on this date. Built and tested in Cincinnati, Ohio,
its chief feature was a boiler made of two square chambers: the inner
one, a fire-box; and the outer one, a space for water and steam."

The first steam engine 1712

A Short History of Steam Engines


The Pioneer Steam Fire-Engine

The history of invention

steam fire-engines

A Genuine Steam Engine


Hope this helps.

Best regards,


search words 'history of fire engine' 'history of steam engine'
'change of name from fire to steam engine'  etc
kemlo-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Inconclusive --But thank you for your helI 
kindest regards Kemlo

Subject: Re: Fire engine to Steam engine
From: popsracer-ga on 22 Mar 2003 08:22 PST
I don't think I have every heard of a steam engine being called a fire
The first steam engine invented by Thomas Newcomen and was known as an
atmospheric engine.
James Watt was the first person to call a Steam Engine a Steam Engine.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary list the first use of Steam Engine 1751

They also list the first use of Fire Engine as circa 1680, but only
list the more conventinal definition of fire engine.

Webster's Dictionary from 1821 have an entry for fire engine, but only
as a device to put out fires.

That is not to say that the fire engine was not used to describe a
steam engine.  But as it is not listed in that dictionary suggests
that if it was then it use has died out before 1821.
Subject: Re: Fire engine to Steam engine
From: leli-ga on 23 Mar 2003 01:34 PST
Hello kemlo

This sounded interesting so I thought I'd have a look too.

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (a hefty volume, though not the
full OED) gives the date 1722 against an entry for "fire-engine"
meaning "steam-engine", confirming your knowledge of the eighteenth
century usage.

For "steam-engine", they say 1751 is the start of its meaning of "an
engine in which the mechanical force of steam is made available as a
motive force for driving machinery". This confirms the 1751 date in
popsracer's comment.

"Steam-engine" meaning "locomotive engine" is dated to 1815.

They also say that using "engine" as a common alternative to
"steam-engine" started in 1816.

Of course the dictionary concentrates more on the first known use of a
word than  the "general usage" which you asked about, but I hope this


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