[ bob-sled ]
/ ˈbɒbˌslɛd /
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a sled having two pairs of runners, a brake, and a steering wheel or other mechanism that enables the front rider to direct the sled down a steeply banked run or chute.
a sled formed of two short sleds coupled one behind the other.
either of the sleds thus coupled.
verb (used without object), bob·sled·ded, bob·sled·ding.
to ride on a bobsled.
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Origin of bobsled

An Americanism dating back to 1830–40; bob2 + sled


bobsledder, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is bobsled?

Bobsled is a sport in which racers ride a sled known as a bobsled (or bobsleigh) down an ice-covered chute with the goal of reaching the finish line as quickly as possible.

The term bobsled is more commonly used (for both the event and the sled) in the U.S. and Canada, but bobsleigh is the official name of the event in the Winter Olympics. The sport is sometimes casually referred to as bobsledding.

Bobsled competitions often involve teams of two or four, but there are also individual events. The one-person bobsled event is called monobob. (A women’s monobob event was added to the Winter Olympics in 2022.)

Bobsleds consist of a tubelike structure on runners with a steering mechanism and brakes. At the start of each heat, the racer or racers push the bobsleigh to gain speed before jumping inside, with the rider at the front handling steering.

Bobsled is known as one of the sliding sports, along with luge and skeleton. Those take place on a similar course, but racers in those events ride on top of their sled (feetfirst in luge, headfirst in skeleton), rather than inside of it like in bobsled.

Bobsled is known for its high speeds, often nearing 100 mph (161 km/h).

Example: I think bobsled is thrilling—and the start might be the most exciting part!

Where does bobsled come from?

The first records of the word bobsled come from the 1830s. It was first used in the U.S. The use of bob in the name is often claimed to originate from the up-and-down bobbing motion used by early racers in the sport, but the name of the sled predates the sport. The word may be based on the sense of the word bob that’s typically applied to short things (such as a bob haircut), perhaps in reference to the shortness of the runners compared to other types of sleds.

Bobsleds were originally used for transporting things like lumber. Bobsledding developed as a sport around the 1880s in places like New York state and Switzerland and gained popularity in the 1890s and early 1900s. In the 1920s, it was officially organized as an international sport under the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT).

The bobsleigh event was included in the very first Winter Olympics 1924 and has been featured as an event at every Winter Games since, with the exception of 1960. Originally, the event consisted of only a four-person men’s competition. Since then, two-person competitions have been added for men and women. An individual women’s event (called monobob) was added in 2022.

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What are some other forms related to bobsled?

  • bobsledder (noun)

What are some synonyms for bobsled?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bobsled

What are some words that often get used in discussing bobsled?

How is bobsled used in real life?

The term bobsled is more commonly used in the U.S. and Canada. Bobsleigh is the official name of the event in the Winter Olympics.



Try using bobsled!

True or False? 

Bobsleds have brakes.

How to use bobsled in a sentence