One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A covered boxlike motor vehicle, typically having a rear door and sliding doors on the side panels, used for transporting goods or people.
- ‘They dragged her outside and easily threw her into the bed of an unmarked dark blue van.’
- ‘The 23-year-old, who has not been named by police, was driving a sports car which hit a van on the wrong side of the road.’
- ‘The windscreen of the van cracked and the side window shattered.’
- ‘A delivery van driver disturbed the burglar, but he escaped.’
- ‘Betty May Hall was driving a white rental van, following her husband's red Toyota.’
- ‘Trading standards officers spoke to two men in a builder's van.’
- ‘He was hit by a car as he stepped out from behind a parked van.’
- ‘The pickup driver then opened the driver's side of the van brandishing a handgun.’
- ‘An armed attack on an armoured security van carrying thousands in cash was foiled by undercover police.’
- ‘As he passed the entrance of the church he heard a bump on the side of his van.’
- ‘A man wearing a balaclava approached an unoccupied parked van and fired two shots into it.’
- ‘The van collided with a parked car after the collision.’
- ‘Just as they reached the bus stop, a stolen police van pulled up.’
- ‘Police are hunting the van driver and have appealed for witnesses.’
- ‘The following morning the gang were caught red handed loading the loot into a stolen transit van.’
- ‘A team of nine scenes-of-crime officers were dispatched in a police van with blacked-out windows to search the couple's home last night.’
- ‘Security was such a concern that the seven defendants were taken to court in an armed convoy of armoured vans flanked by police motorcyclists.’
- ‘The drivers of both the van and car were injured.’
- ‘As usual tens of riot police vans were waiting for them.’
- ‘A spokesperson said two robbers approached the driver of a security van that was transporting the cash, forced him to the ground and tied his hands.’
- 1.1British An enclosed railroad freight car.
- ‘In more recent years pooled cabooses for mainline trains meant only assigned local and branchline train crews kept their own van.’
- ‘This explains why Edwardian ladies had so much luggage, deposited in the baggage van by a team of railway porters.’
- ‘Goods of little value were removed from the guard's van.’
- ‘Here the diesel engine that shunts the little guard's van turns tail and pulls them home.’
- ‘In later years a new coach shop was built at John Street and the West Toronto shops concentrated on freight and service equipment including rebuilding wooden vans.’
- 1.2British A caravan.
mobile home, camper, caravanettewagon, covered cartView synonyms
- ‘Caravanners have been warned to watch out for their vans after a spate of breaks-in at Bolton-le-Sands.’
- ‘He knew of the caravan site, found two insecure unoccupied vans, slept there and took items of low value.’
- ‘New legislation for holiday vans came into force in recent weeks covering arrangements in caravan parks where vans are left on site for regular recreational use.’
- ‘The caravan park was crammed with campers, vans and tents.’
- ‘Zoe is on the lookout for a place to stay, perhaps a van at the caravan park.’
Early 19th century: shortening of caravan.
1The foremost part of a company of people moving or preparing to move forward, especially the foremost division of an advancing military force.‘in the van were the foremost chiefs and some of the warriors astride horses’
- ‘The men who they select from the whole force and station in the van are fleet of foot and fit admirably into cavalry action.’
- ‘After an attack by crossbowmen and infantry, the van of the French cavalry charged impetuously through their own infantry across the stream and up the slope on the other side.’
- ‘It made little difference what rank others in the van might bear.’
- ‘The chief had been in the van of the rushing throng.’
- 1.1 The forefront.‘he was in the van of the movement to encourage the cultivation of wildflowers’
- ‘Two economies have been strikingly in the van of this advance: the US and China.’
- ‘The Australian dollar was again in the van last night, rising 0.6% against a broadly weaker US dollar.’
- ‘As always the hospitality and courtesy of Mayo people in the Sportlann was early in evidence with Sean Feeney, John Prenty and May Moran leading the van.’
Early 17th century: abbreviation of vanguard.
1A winnowing fan.
- ‘Nothing is more commonly found in the monuments of the heathen feasts than a small chest, a van, and a flute or a drum.’
- ‘One golden crop has felt the winnowing van, another now is ready.’
2literary A bird's wing.
Late Middle English: dialect variant of fan, probably reinforced by Old French van or Latin vannus.
- informal term for advantage
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