[ bob-sley ]
/ ˈbɒbˌsleɪ /
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noun, verb (used without object) Chiefly British.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is bobsleigh?

Bobsleigh is a sport in which racers ride a sled known as a bobsleigh (or bobsled) 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.

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

Bobsleighs 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.

Bobsleigh 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 bobsleigh.

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

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

Where does bobsleigh come from?

The first records of the word bobsleigh come from the late 1800s. It’s a variation of the earlier bobsled, which is recorded as early as the 1830s and was first used in the U.S. The word sleigh typically indicates a type of sled on runners. 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 sleighs.

Bobsleighs were originally used for transporting things like lumber. The sport of bobsleigh developed 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).

Bobsleigh 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 bobsleigh?

  • bobsleigher (noun)

What are some synonyms for bobsleigh?

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

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

How is bobsleigh used in real life?

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


Try using bobsleigh!

True or False? 

Bobsleighs have brakes.

How to use bobsleigh in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bobsleigh

/ (ˈbɒbˌsleɪ) /

a racing sledge for two or more people, with a steering mechanism enabling the driver to direct it down a steeply banked ice-covered run
(esp formerly)
  1. a sleigh made of two short sledges joined one behind the other
  2. one of these two short sledges
(intr) to ride on a bobsleigh
Also called (esp US and Canadian): bobsled (ˈbɒbˌslɛd)

Word Origin for bobsleigh

C19: bob ² + sleigh
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