Definition of car in US English:



  • 1A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.

    ‘we're going by car’
    as modifier ‘a car crash’
    • ‘For moving freight, and people travelling with heavy loads or equipment, we need road space for cars and commercial vehicles.’
    • ‘The court heard that early last Wednesday the women pulled up at traffic lights in front of a police vehicle and left their cars blocking the road.’
    • ‘The highway roads carry cars and trucks from the suburbs into the city.’
    • ‘These include closing some roads to cars, buses and lorries on Sundays so that people can walk, run and cycle in safety.’
    • ‘An elderly man involved in a car crash four days ago died yesterday in hospital.’
    • ‘I have frequently been squeezed into the kerb by car drivers who think that two wheels plus four, will fit.’
    • ‘If an innkeeper who keeps a public house provides a car park, he invites those members of the public who find it convenient to come by car to leave their cars in that car park.’
    • ‘It is necessary to move buses on separate lanes, as the impact of one bus on the road is equivalent to that of four cars.’
    • ‘The equation is very simple - high powered cars on poor quality roads is not a recipe for success.’
    • ‘As dawn approached, police set up checkpoints as part of a plan to ban cars carrying fewer than four people from midtown Manhattan.’
    • ‘The road police examines all cars that come into Moscow and leave it.’
    • ‘I was able to drive the cars on both the roads around Atlanta and at the track at Road Atlanta Raceway.’
    • ‘It is difficult to get to by car, the roads are very crowded and it is not always the best drive.’
    • ‘The city council is flexing its muscles after becoming the first local authority in the north west with the power to tow away cars without valid road tax.’
    • ‘There were old people coming to her premises by car who were not able to park outside her shop because of the taxi ranks.’
    • ‘Crowds elsewhere in the city threw stones at police and blocked roads with cars and buses.’
    • ‘Residents of a treacherous road where 13 cars have crashed into a single home are petitioning to reduce speed in the area.’
    • ‘While a caller was reporting the first incident, a second crash involving four cars happened on the northbound carriageway.’
    • ‘The only things that existed were Lucy, me, and the sound of the car wheels on the road.’
    • ‘Police today have warned Ford Focus owners in East Lancashire to be extra vigilant as their cars are being targeted by car thieves.’
    motor car, automobile, motor, machine
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A railroad vehicle for passengers or freight.
      ‘the first-class cars’
      • ‘The Newark stop took 7 minutes and I noticed a forklift truck at one of the mail cars.’
      • ‘On the return trip the empty cars are handled like any other freight car in captive service.’
      • ‘Nine cars of a coal train derailed early Tuesday about 13 miles east of Gillette, Wyoming.’
      • ‘Twelve tons would have been the maximum capacity for one of these coal cars.’
      • ‘I was also amazed to find that the items from the diner car were not so bad at all!’
      • ‘She was switching standard gauge cars without any kind of idler car on the three rail track.’
      • ‘First-class cars included a pit toilet that opened on the tracks passing below.’
      • ‘Amtrak has sold its mail cars and is getting improved dispatching from the Union Pacific Railroad.’
      • ‘It used mules to haul two ore cars and a flatcar one and a half miles between its mill at the foot of the mountains and its mine.’
      • ‘The brewery receives covered hopper cars of grain, rice, hops, and an occasional car of carbon dioxide.’
      • ‘When No.4 arrived from Cincinnati, three mail storage cars were removed from the train.’
      • ‘This morning the Jasper Red Leaf coaches are on the front and our dome car is on the rear.’
      • ‘Our train consists of six coach class cars, a cafe car, and one business class car.’
      • ‘We have our own dining car so, let's meet in there about half an hour after we board.’
      carriage, coach
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The passenger compartment of an elevator, cableway, airship, or balloon.
      • ‘They soon arrived at the lift, and the car arrived within ten seconds of keying for it.’
      • ‘He had used the ring to get an express elevator car to the top of the Letap Center.’
      • ‘The car-free village of Bettmeralp which is only accessible by a large-car cableway is located in the immediate vicinity of the impressive Aletsch Glacier.’
      • ‘The Cableway will extend its operational hours weather permitting: the last car up will be at 23h00 and the last car down will be at 01h00.’
      • ‘On the 26th of November, the balloon, fitted with its network, and having the car attached to it, was sent away from the hall of the Tuileries.’
    3. 1.3literary A chariot.
      • ‘Classical Latin poets also used Phoebus as a byname for the sun-god, whence come common references in later European poetry to Phoebus and his car("chariot") as a metaphor for the sun.’
      • ‘And then Krishna and Arjuna, seated on the same car (chariot), blew their celestial conches.’
      • ‘Their armour shone like a flame of blazing fire as they stood in their car: their swift horses struck the earth and pawed it with their hoofs, and the dust rose like smoke about them.’


Late Middle English (in the general sense ‘wheeled vehicle’): from Old Northern French carre, based on Latin carrum, carrus, of Celtic origin.