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[kuh-boos] /kəˈbus/
a car on a freight train, used chiefly as the crew's quarters and usually attached to the rear of the train.
British. a kitchen on the deck of a ship; galley.
Slang. the buttocks.
Origin of caboose
early modern Dutch
1740-50; < early modern Dutch cabūse (Dutch kabuis) ship's galley, storeroom; compare Low German kabuus, kabüse, Middle Low German kabuse booth, shed; further origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for caboose
Historical Examples
  • The conductor and crew of the local freight were lounging comfortably in the caboose.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • The man addressed as “Jack” sprang alertly to the roof of the caboose.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • It did not occur to Bucks that the caboose was standing still.

    The Mountain Divide Frank H. Spearman
  • Mears, greatly disturbed, ordered the men off the grade and into the caboose.

    Whispering Smith Frank H. Spearman
  • He was not on top of any of the cars, nor in the caboose, and must have been left behind.

    Cab and Caboose

    Kirk Munroe
  • You 'tack me and I'll have you in the caboose, sure's my name's Gedney Raffer.

    Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp Annie Roe Carr
  • Just then Willie Wallace came through the caboose, and the train stopped.

    Mitch Miller Edgar Lee Masters
  • The caboose was gone, and so was everything on deck not thoroughly secured.

    Hurricane Hurry W.H.G. Kingston
  • Forward is the caboose of the crew, a wide, low, but roomy erection.

    Man on the Ocean R.M. Ballantyne
  • The locomotive whistled, and the brakeman ran back to the caboose.

    Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman
British Dictionary definitions for caboose


(US, informal) short for calaboose
(railways, US & Canadian) a guard's van, esp one with sleeping and eating facilities for the train crew
  1. a deckhouse for a galley aboard ship or formerly in Canada, on a lumber raft
  2. (mainly Brit) the galley itself
  1. a mobile bunkhouse used by lumbermen, etc
  2. an insulated cabin on runners, equipped with a stove
Word Origin
C18: from Dutch cabūse, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for caboose

1747, "ship's cookhouse," from Middle Dutch kambuis "ship's galley," from Low German kabhuse "wooden cabin on ship's deck;" probably a compound whose elements correspond to English cabin and house (n.). Railroading sense is by 1859.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for caboose



A jail

[1860s+; prob fr calaboose, ''jail'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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