toboggan

[ tuh-bog-uhn ]
/ təˈbɒg ən /

noun

a long, narrow, flat-bottomed sled made of a thin board curved upward and backward at the front, often with low handrails on the sides, used especially in the sport of coasting over snow or ice.

verb (used without object)

to use, or coast on, a toboggan.
to fall rapidly, as prices or one's fortune.

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Origin of toboggan

1820–30; <Maliseet-Passamaquoddy tʰapákən,Micmac topaĝan (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *weta·pye·- to drag a cord + *-kan- instrument for)

OTHER WORDS FROM toboggan

to·bog·gan·er, to·bog·gan·ist, noun

Words nearby toboggan

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does toboggan mean?

A toboggan is an old-timey sled. One kind is long and narrow with a curved-up front, and another kind has a flat platform on top of runners.

Toboggan can also be used as a verb in exactly the same way that sled can be used as a verb, as in let’s go tobogganing. However, it can also mean to fall rapidly, especially in the context of nonphysical things like stock prices.

Example: We found Grandpa’s old toboggan in the attic and rode it down the hill in the snow today—that thing really flies!

Where does toboggan come from?

The word toboggan has been used in English since at least the 1820s. It derives from the Algonquian family of Native American languages, including Maliseet-Passamaquoddy and Micmac, from terms that referred to a type of sled-like vehicle or tool for pulling things.

You don’t see toboggans too much anymore, but they used to be the only kinds of sleds, so they were quite popular. In the 1800s, Canadian Governor-General Lord Dufferin and his wife Lady Dufferin had a toboggan run (a track to ride toboggans on) built at their winter home in order to host “toboggan parties.”

Later, the verb sense of toboggan was extended in a figurative way to refer to the action of falling rapidly and often in an out-of-control kind of way (like how the comic strip characters Calvin and Hobbes are usually shown riding their toboggan down hills), similar to the word hurtle. It’s typically used in the context of abstract things, as in Stock prices tobogganed to an all-time low today. 

Less commonly, toboggan refers to a type of winter hat, which probably gets its names from the fact that people usually wear warm hats when they go tobogganing!

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to toboggan?

  • tobogganer (noun)
  • tobogganist (noun)

What are some synonyms for toboggan?

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

 

How is toboggan used in real life?

Toboggans are less popular than they once were due to the availability of all kinds of sleds, and the word often has an antique ring to it. But toboggans are still used, especially in places with long winters.

 

 

Try using toboggan!

Is toboggan used correctly in the following sentence?

Everything was fine until we lost that account, but then we quickly tobogganed into bankruptcy.

Example sentences from the Web for toboggan

British Dictionary definitions for toboggan

toboggan
/ (təˈbɒɡən) /

noun

a light wooden frame on runners used for sliding over snow and ice
a long narrow sledge made of a thin board curved upwards and backwards at the front

verb -gans, -ganing or -ganed

(intr) to ride on a toboggan

Derived forms of toboggan

tobogganer or tobogganist, noun

Word Origin for toboggan

C19: from Canadian French, from Algonquian; related to Abnaki udābāgan
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