Origin of locomotive

1605–15; < Latin locō, ablative of locus place + motive (adj.); compare Medieval Latin in locō movērī to change position
Related formslo·co·mo·tive·ly, adverblo·co·mo·tive·ness, lo·co·mo·tiv·i·ty, nounun·lo·co·mo·tive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for locomotive

Contemporary Examples of locomotive

Historical Examples of locomotive

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for locomotive



  1. Also called: locomotive enginea 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 Formslocomotively, adverblocomotiveness, 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

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