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  1. British. a streetcar.
  2. a tramway; tramroad.
  3. Also called tram·car [tram-kahr] /ˈtræmˌkɑr/. a truck or car on rails for carrying loads in a mine.
  4. the vehicle or cage of an overhead carrier.
verb (used with or without object), trammed, tram·ming.
  1. to convey or travel by tram.

Origin of tram1

1490–1500 for an earlier sense; 1820–30 for def 2; orig. shafts of a barrow or cart, rails for carts (in mines); perhaps < Middle Dutch trame beam
Related formstram·less, adjective


  1. trammel(def 3).
verb (used with object), trammed, tram·ming.
  1. Machinery. to adjust (something) correctly.

Origin of tram2

First recorded in 1880–85; short for trammel


  1. silk that has been slightly or loosely twisted, used weftwise in weaving silk fabrics.
Compare organzine.

Origin of tram3

1300–50 for an earlier sense; 1670–80 for current sense; Middle English tram(m)e machination, contrivance < Old French traime weft, cunning contrivance < Latin trāma warp
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tram

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She waved her hand to him as the tram drove off, and he waved his in reply.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • There was the tram line, if m'sieur did not care to take a fiacre.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • I'll get it before we start home and I can be reading it over all the time on the tram.

    Alice Adams

    Booth Tarkington

  • Afterwards I took the tram to Posilipo and came home by boat.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • The tram was already gliding away at some distance down the road.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

British Dictionary definitions for tram


  1. Also called: tramcar an electrically driven public transport vehicle that runs on rails let into the surface of the road, power usually being taken from an overhead wireUS and Canadian names: streetcar, trolley car
  2. a small vehicle on rails for carrying loads in a mine; tub
Derived Formstramless, adjective

Word Origin

C16 (in the sense: shaft of a cart): probably from Low German traam beam; compare Old Norse thrömr, Middle Dutch traem beam, tooth of a rake


  1. machinery a fine adjustment that ensures correct function or alignment
verb trams, tramming or trammed
  1. (tr) to adjust (a mechanism) to a fine degree of accuracy

Word Origin

C19: short for trammel


  1. (in weaving) a weft yarn of two or more twisted strands of silk

Word Origin

C17: from French trame, from Latin trāma; related to Latin trāns across, trāmes footpath
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

Word Origin and History for tram


c.1500, "beam or shaft of a barrow or sledge," also "a barrow or truck body" (1510s), Scottish, originally in reference to the iron trucks used in coal mines, probably from Middle Flemish tram "beam, handle of a barrow, bar, rung," a North Sea Germanic word of unknown origin. The sense of "track for a barrow, tramway" is first recorded 1826; that of "streetcar" is first recorded 1860. Tram-car is attested from 1873.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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