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Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Does anyone know the origin of the word 'engineer'?

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

In England in olden days, it was a known joke to ask "Any gin here?" if a place was dull and needed livening up. This soon changed to the more colloquial form of Eny-gin-eer and then to Engineer to describe someone who needed livening up or was miserable for having a low wage and self esteem.


RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

I'm not sure, but I believe "Engineer" (ingegnere, in italian) derives from the latin "ingenium" (ingegno, in italian). Just an opinion, anyway.

PS: The origin of the word proposed by corus is far more funny, anyway!

Che Dio ce la mandi buona, o almeno ce la mandi- Massimiliano Eusebi
Check eng-tips rules: FAQ731-376

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

It is soo obvious that you shouldn't have asked: It comes from Ingenious - which describes us individuals with that profession.

I MAY also stem from Ingenuous - which also describes many of us individuals with same profession.

The proof is in the spelling. We spell it Ingeniör and that points to the Ingenious theory.

The fact that the guys that cared and fed steam engines in those distant days were called Engineers probably has nothing to do with the modern usage of the word Engineer. A pure coincidence. Isn't it?

Gunnar Englund

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Great research! I snipped this:

"Summing up on the origin of the name engineer, the discussion concerns whether ingeniarus o ingenia(tus), from the Low Latin, come or referred to an ingenious person, that one who invented or designed war machines, or rather it came from engine, as applied to engine operator, war machine assistant"

Which, I think, covers two of my possibilities. Why Ingenuous isn't mentioned, I do not understand - we are that, too.   

ingenuous \in-JEN-yoo-uhs\, adjective:
1. Demonstrating childlike simplicity; innocent; naive.
2. Free from reserve, restraint, or guile; open; frank.
3. [Obsolete] Noble; honorable.

Gunnar Englund

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

"...referred to an ingenious person, that one who invented or designed war machines, ... "

Apparently not everyone thought the first military Engineers were geniuses, even William Shakespeare:

Quote (Hamlet):

For 'tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard: and't shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And blow them at the moon.

A petard was a crudely made explosive used in the era to attack enemy walls during a siege. Due to the way they were made, the petards often exploded prematurely, "hoisting" the engineer up into the air...

(Petard comes from the french word peter: "to break wind")

Source: William Gurstelle's "Backyard Ballistics"

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

I thought it was because at heart, we all are train drivers.

A long deceased state govenor some years ago, (before my time) giving the graduation speech at our university was trying to mention the major fields of all the graduates, and as part of the "I hope all you teachers get a new school, nurses a new hospital to work in, etc., is said to have included these words.  "I hope all you engineers get a new train to drive."

The term "train driver" stuck for years at our university.


RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

I quote:

..English speakers tend to think that the word "engineering" is related to the word for "engine," thus
engineers are people who work with engines. In fact, "engineer" comes from the French word "ingenieur,"
which derives from the same latin roots as the words "ingenuity" and "genius." Engineering is the profession of creative solution to difficult problems....

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

does the word engine derive from the same source - hence the link in the English language?

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Quote (bandraoi):

"does the word engine derive from the same source - hence the link in the English language?"

hmmm.. makes some sense.. engine .... ingeneous machine...

-----> ingine (I know its not a real word)

So it appears that engine could be a relettered contraction of ingeneous machine.

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

An engine is something that produces some effect from a given input. The origin of engineering was the working of engines. There is an overlap in English between two meanings of the word "engineer": 'those who operate engines' and 'those who design and construct new items'.

From wikipedia.com

Suggests there's a link.

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

From wikipedia:

It is a myth that engineer originated to describe those who built engines. In fact, the words engine and engineer (as well as ingenious) developed in parallel from the Latin root ingeniosus, meaning "skilled". An engineer is thus a clever, practical, problem solver. The spelling of engineer was later influenced by back-formation from engine. The term later evolved to include all fields where the skills of application of the scientific method are used. In some other languages, such as Arabic, the word for "engineering" also means "geometry".

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?


At Michigan Tech, the engineers are called "Toots" by the local yoopers (indigenous to the U.P.), in reference to train drivers.

Of course they call the people from lower Michigan "Trolls" because they live below the bridge (Mackinac Bridge).

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

eric- 1037 is a good time. (from one tech grad to another.)

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Say ya to da UP, eh?

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

When my kids were little they were astonished that I would go to an office when I should be driving a train.  I never did get them straightened out.  Train driving just seems so much more fun.


RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Ingénieur vient de l'ancien français engigneor, qui désigne un constructeur d'engins de guerre.

Engineer in french is said "ingénieur". According to wikipedia, "ingénieur" is from old-french word "engigneor" which means "builder of war machines". The origin of the english word is probably the same.

Source: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ing%C3%A9nieur

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

That reminds of one of my favorite engineering sayings

"Mechanical engineers build weapons, civil engineers build targets."

Edward L. Klein
Pipe Stress Engineer
Houston, Texas

"All the world is a Spring"

All opinions expressed here are my own and not my company's.

RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Mechanical Engineer - If it doesn't move, it's broke.

Civil Engineer - If it moves, it's broke.


RE: Origin of the word 'engineer'?

Hmmmm.. I wonder what the definition of enginurd is.

Regards, Wil Taylor

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