Definition of locomotive in English:



  • A powered rail vehicle used for pulling trains.

    [as modifier] ‘a diesel locomotive’
    • ‘Guests and passengers were treated to a trip along the five-mile line pulled by the historic locomotive.’
    • ‘The railway locomotive and the large steam-powered factory were the most spectacular products of the steam age.’
    • ‘There were also employees responsible for the locomotives themselves, the drivers, the firemen and the cleaners.’
    • ‘The world's most famous steam locomotive is symbolic of British industry, innovation and engineering.’
    • ‘There were at least nineteen designs from ten builders, and one from a consortium, but no locomotives were ever built!’
    • ‘The locomotives and the oil tank wagons were built in China and are powered by British-manufactured engines.’
    • ‘I noticed that the southbound train did have only two locomotives, but it didn't seem to be a problem.’
    • ‘The cars were pulled across by horses and picked up by locomotives at both ends.’
    • ‘Except this time, the bug was a large helicopter gunship and the car was a speeding diesel locomotive.’
    • ‘This enabled the order to be kept down to just four locomotives.’
    • ‘One switchman handles both locomotives, that is he takes one out while the other is loading and so on.’
    • ‘An exhibition of locomotives and rolling stock drew crowds to York's old station.’
    • ‘He does some other weird stuff then like knock people over using chi, and pull a railway locomotive along by cables attached to huge piercings right through his biceps, insane but not as miraculous as the electrical stuff.’
    • ‘They are railway locomotives, fireplaces, church towers, cannons and benches.’
    • ‘The first electric locomotive was demonstrated in Berlin in 1879.’
    • ‘The heights and widths of all cement railcars and locomotives were determined.’
    • ‘It said a shortage of locomotives would damage Germany's ability to transport enough troops, supplies and weapons to battle.’
    • ‘The use of light locomotives on the estate railways became more widespread after the First World War.’
    • ‘His main interest is the steam locomotives and railways of many countries.’
    • ‘Christmas is heading this way like a speeding locomotive.’
    rolling stock, trains, locomotives, carriages, wagons
    View synonyms


  • 1Relating to or effecting locomotion.

    ‘locomotive power’
    • ‘Consequently, locomotive failure or broken bones can occur in older females, particularly those that were not developed properly as replacement gilts.’
    • ‘With the growth in the economy, the locomotive capacity has to be increased.’
    • ‘Without knowing the total amount of power being expended to accelerate both the locomotive and train, a reasonable estimate of locomotive power cannot be obtained.’
    • ‘As the rocket scientists watched it boing away easily across the uneven, rugged terrain, they realized that an inflatable ball was a superb locomotive design.’
    • ‘It would be more than five years later, after the ‘Tom Thumb’ experiments, that steam locomotive technology would secure the company's success.’
    • ‘They manned mighty tractors, equal to compound locomotive power and had the lands deeply plowed… Crop failures were no more.’
    • ‘It seems that Bradford was at the cutting edge of locomotive technology in those experimental years before the First World War and would be a very interesting story.’
    • ‘We prefer to use our own locomotive prowess to enjoy the countryside in all its peace and quiet and natural beauty.’
    • ‘That steam locomotive technology had climaxed at about the time the Depression started is is evidenced in the requirements for a college degree in mechanical engineering.’
    • ‘You must avoid the attack by using the speed of locomotive power.’
    • ‘‘As people get older their locomotive abilities give up before vision and if they become confined to one room vision and hearing become relatively more important,’ he said.’
    • ‘Enunciating clearly made her lose her train of thought, and if you can't have a locomotive discussion, she thought guiltily, what's the point?’
    • ‘Thus substantial space is devoted, for example, to railroads in the Civil War and to the development of locomotive power in the era from 1865 to 1900.’
    1. 1.1archaic (of a machine, vehicle, or animal) having the power of progressive motion.
      ‘locomotive bivalves have the strongest hinges’
      travelling, transportable, transferable, portable, movable, locomotive, manoeuvrable
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Early 17th century (as an adjective): from modern Latin locomotivus, from Latin loco (ablative of locus place) + late Latin motivus motive suggested by medieval Latin in loco moveri move by change of position.