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[loh-kuh-moh-tiv] /ˌloʊ kəˈmoʊ tɪv/
a self-propelled, vehicular engine, powered by steam, a diesel, or electricity, for pulling or, sometimes, pushing a train or individual railroad cars.
an organized group cheer, usually led by a cheerleader, as at a football or basketball game, that begins slowly and progressively increases in speed in such a way as to suggest a steam locomotive.
Archaic. any self-propelled vehicle.
of or relating to locomotives.
of, relating to, or aiding in locomotion or movement from place to place:
the locomotive powers of most animals.
moving or traveling by means of its own mechanism or powers.
serving to produce such movement; adapted for or used in locomotion:
locomotive organs.
having the power of locomotion:
an animal that is locomotive at birth.
Origin of locomotive
1605-15; < Latin locō, ablative of locus place + motive (adj.); compare Medieval Latin in locō movērī to change position
Related forms
locomotively, adverb
locomotiveness, locomotivity, noun
unlocomotive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for locomotive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was still exerting his strength to the utmost when the whistle of the locomotive was heard.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • People have so much to say about an ant's strength, and an elephant's, and a locomotive's.

    Tom Sawyer Abroad Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • The sound was exactly that of steam roaring from a locomotive's safety valve.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • The sharp and deep groanings of the locomotive had already awakened me.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • The motor on the locomotive as a maximum 1½ horse-power when so much is needed.

  • The gauge is a narrow one, so that the locomotive can be made of small dimensions.

British Dictionary definitions for locomotive


  1. Also called locomotive engine. a self-propelled engine driven by steam, electricity, or diesel power and used for drawing trains along railway tracks
  2. (as modifier): a locomotive shed, a locomotive works
of or relating to locomotion
moving or able to move, as by self-propulsion
Derived Forms
locomotively, adverb
locomotiveness, noun
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 locomotive

1610s, "pertaining to movement," from French locomotif, from Latin loco "from a place" (ablative of locus "place;" see locus) + Late Latin motivus "moving" (see motive). The noun meaning "railroad engine" is from 1829, short for locomotive engine (1814).

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



  1. A cheer that resembles a steam locomotive starting: We all had to stand up and give him a locomotive (1950s+ Students)
  2. A strong motive force; prime mover: free trade, which has been a locomotive of prosperity since World War II
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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