Definition of trolley in English:



  • 1British A large metal basket or frame on wheels, used for transporting heavy or large items, such as supermarket purchases or luggage at an airport or railway station.

    • ‘Choose a trolley rather than a basket as this offers you more mobility.’
    • ‘Clearing customs at an airport terminal, he insists on pushing a luggage trolley.’
    • ‘I saw several people who, like him, appeared to have their worldly possessions stacked neatly on a metal trolley.’
    • ‘Activists went into the supermarkets, filled trolleys with pasta, and then left them at the checkout counter.’
    • ‘Just like supermarket trolleys, baggage trolleys have a mind of their own.’
    • ‘Supermarket trolleys can cause back strain.’
    • ‘The group's services range from treatments to harden metals for aero-engines to providing the shine on metals used in supermarket trolleys.’
    • ‘A shocking exposé of the British food industry that will make readers look seriously at the contents of their supermarket trolleys.’
    • ‘Supermarket trolleys are well-known for their irritating tendency to veer from the straight and narrow, apparently at their own whim.’
    • ‘Many of us spend weekend afternoons pushing the trolley round the supermarket or ambling through a shopping mall.’
    • ‘Supermarkets have experienced a surge in the theft of trolleys and shopping baskets since the introduction of the plastic bags tax earlier this year.’
    • ‘It is possible they used a metal trolley to move the stolen goods, which was abandoned outside the building.’
    • ‘Supermarket trolleys and burned-out cars replaced the brightly coloured barges that once proudly carried grain, coal, wool, salt and timber.’
    • ‘For some reason, the papers were wheeled around the hall in supermarket trolleys.’
    • ‘The government knows older people will be forced out of decent jobs and forced into menial jobs like filling supermarket trolleys and opening doors for a pittance.’
    • ‘We pay for trolleys in airports and supermarkets, and for parking we either scratch a permit, ‘pay and display’ or ‘park and ride’.’
    • ‘Many parents use car seats to carry their babies or secure them in their pushchairs and supermarket trolleys.’
    • ‘Retailers recognise that some shoppers have no other way of getting their groceries home, so they won't stop people pushing trolleys out of supermarket car parks.’
    • ‘When it came to buckling the children into the supermarket trolley, belt use was in direct proportion to attractiveness.’
    • ‘There was no wheelchair available and she was advised to use an airport trolley.’
    1. 1.1 A small table on wheels or castors, typically used to convey food and drink.
      • ‘In the restaurant, walking, talking robot trolleys will move around serving drinks.’
      • ‘Apart from the used items, the showroom also sports new custom-made articles like dinner tables and bar trolleys.’
      • ‘Communal cooking in Israel will never excite the gourmet, but the meals which are wheeled to the tables on stainless steel trolleys are balanced and filling.’
      • ‘It's a small, intimate restaurant with just a few tables, a sweet trolley parked prominently in the centre of the room when you arrive.’
      • ‘He took to the kitchen, smashing bowls and plates, turning over trolleys and pushing over tables.’
      • ‘The portable oven trolleys, found in each ward, ensure the food is hot, without burning, before serving.’
      • ‘Then, last week, the system would not operate at all, so the staff were stuck outside the block unable to return to duty - unable to get the food trolleys in, so the meals were served late.’
      • ‘Catering consists of a trolley offering drinks, tea, coffee and snacks.’
      • ‘And while the fare is more, you get more comfort - including toilets and a food trolley service.’
      • ‘A trolley is wheeled in from the kitchen, and any teachers that happen to be present at the time team together to dish out the meals.’
      • ‘Prisoners are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner by wardens who come down the corridors with ready-cooked food on trolleys but many inmates prefer to make their own meals in the evening.’
      • ‘Without missing a beat, another aide approached the table, wheeling a trolley heaped with food.’
      • ‘A smartly dressed waitress pushed a trolley to the table and loaded it promptly.’
      • ‘We were just about to board when we were told a food trolley had activated one of the emergency chutes and they had to fly a part from Britain.’
      • ‘In their immaculate uniforms they go through safety procedures and tirelessly parade the aisles, pushing trolleys laden with drinks, meals and duty free.’
      • ‘Two of them will get an opportunity to accompany the drinks trolley during the match!’
      • ‘Sebastian stood up and walked to a trolley of food that had been behind the door.’
      • ‘One businessman was told there were too many people on board and they could not wheel trolleys with hot drinks as it was a safety hazard.’
      • ‘Satine turns to a trolley with food and drink on it, and picks up a bottle of Champagne from the ice bucket.’
      • ‘‘Thanks for your help,’ Keira said sarcastically, as she grabbed a metal tray off the food trolley.’
    2. 1.2 A hospital bed on wheels for transporting patients.
      • ‘It has also provided diagnostic equipment, beds and trolleys for the hospital.’
      • ‘Accident victims are being rushed between hospitals or left on trolleys for hours because of a desperate shortage of beds and staff.’
      • ‘As a result, ambulance crew were unable to answer emergency calls until normal hospital trolleys were found for patients.’
      • ‘Patients on trolleys line hospital corridors, queuing for days to access beds in a system strained by the sheer volume of demand.’
      • ‘He said the doors were designed to close slowly, and to stay open longer than a conventional lift, to enable the medical staff ample time to wheel the trolley and patient out of, or into, the lift.’
      • ‘The results of that study emerged after a survey revealed 140 patients were waiting on trolleys in hospitals and around the country yesterday.’
      • ‘Patients were waiting on trolleys in hospital hallways.’
      • ‘‘It's important that students know how to safely move a patient from the trolley back into bed,’ explains Nic.’
      • ‘This morning the corridors are crowded, there are patients even lying on trolleys outside the hospital waiting to be treated.’
      • ‘Marcus is tied to a surgical trolley with thick leather straps, totally unable to move.’
      • ‘According to the Irish Nurses Organisation, more than 200 patients were on trolleys, awaiting beds, in hospitals around the country.’
      • ‘During the same period the highest recorded number of patients on trolleys at the Mercy Hospital was 41.’
      • ‘The ward can take eight extra trolleys or beds and patients suffering from minor ailments will be placed there to free up beds in the hospital for flu patients.’
      • ‘Patients are marooned on trolleys because there are no available beds even though there are plenty of beds available in private nursing homes.’
      • ‘She was in a lot of pain and discomfort but still she had to spend 23 hours on a hospital trolley before a bed was found.’
      • ‘Mum was lying on a trolley, hooked up to various machines.’
      • ‘The organisation has begun to release daily figures which show that an average of 200 patients are left lying on hospital trolleys waiting for beds.’
      • ‘It was no longer uncommon for patients to be lying on hospital trolleys for up to four days.’
      • ‘The 30,000-strong nurses' union said it received reports of severe overcrowding, with dozens of patients on trolleys in the city's major acute hospitals.’
      • ‘Ambulances have been queuing up at the Emergency Department, waiting up to 90 minutes before they can get their patients from a trolley to a bed.’
  • 2A wheel attached to a pole, used for collecting current from an overhead electric wire to drive a tram.

    • ‘In later years, the tarries were electrified, and poles held the trolley wire.’
    • ‘They also had to replace the trolley pole when it escaped from the overhead wire.’
    handcart, pushcart, barrow, wheelbarrow
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  • 3

    short for trolleybus or trolley car
    • ‘Electric trolleys, which received their power from an overhead wire and returned it through the rails, provided the system that finally made the horse obsolete.’


  • off one's trolley

    • informal Mad; insane.

      • ‘Haven't they noticed that she's off her trolley?’
      • ‘He is an ex-supermarket boss who is off his trolley.’
      • ‘I just didn't expect him to be so totally off his trolley as he was that night.’
      • ‘First, to make sure I wasn't totally off my trolley, I sent an email to my fellow rocker, Michele.’
      • ‘She said you'd think she's off her trolley if I told you.’
      • ‘People think I'm off my trolley but it's exhilarating.’
      • ‘‘I reckon you're off your trolley,’ she says with surprising insight.’
      • ‘If, ten years ago, anyone had proposed that children in British schools should be taught in any other language than English they too would have been vilified and accused of being ‘off their trolley.’’
      • ‘Is it my imagination or have we all gone off our trolley?’
      • ‘Then of course there are those who are quite literally off their trolley.’
      severely mentally ill, mentally ill, insane, mad, certifiable, deranged, demented, of unsound mind, out of one's mind, not in one's right mind, not together, crazed, maniac, maniacal, lunatic, unbalanced, unhinged, unstable, disturbed, distracted, stark mad, manic, frenzied, raving, distraught, frantic, hysterical, delirious, mad as a hatter, mad as a march hare
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Early 19th century: of dialect origin, perhaps from troll.