• synonyms


  1. a small railroad car or platform on four wheels propelled by a mechanism worked by hand, used on some railroads for inspecting tracks and transporting workers.
Show More

Origin of handcar

An Americanism dating back to 1840–50; hand + car1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hand-car

Historical Examples of hand-car

  • They knew that it would be impossible to make the necessary speed with a hand-car.

    Chasing an Iron Horse

    Edward Robins

  • He pointed to some workmen who had a hand-car near the track, not far above him.

  • In a moment the hand-car was off, the men pumping for dear life.

    The Mystic Mid-Region

    Arthur J. Burdick

  • They jerked a hand-car off a siding and chased the fugitives with that.

    Tom Strong, Lincoln's Scout

    Alfred Bishop Mason

  • Before they had gone a half mile they found a hand-car on a siding.

Word Origin and History for hand-car


1846 in railroading sense, from hand (n.) + car.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper