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van1

[van]
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noun
  1. the foremost or front division of an army, a fleet, or any group leading an advance or in position to lead an advance.
  2. those who are in the forefront of a movement or the like.
  3. the forefront in any movement, course of progress, or the like.
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Origin of van1

First recorded in 1600–10; short for vanguard

van2

[van]
noun
  1. a covered vehicle, usually a large truck or trailer, used for moving furniture, goods, animals, etc.
  2. a smaller boxlike vehicle that resembles a panel truck, often has double doors both at the rear and along the curb side, and that can be used as a truck, fitted with rows of seats, or equipped with living quarters for traveling and camping.
  3. British.
    1. a railway baggage car.
    2. a covered, boxlike railway car, as one used to carry freight.
    3. a small, horse-drawn wagon or a small truck, as one used by tradespeople to carry light goods.
  4. Also called van conversion. a conventional van whose cargo area has been equipped with living facilities, extra windows, and often increased headroom.
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verb (used with object), vanned, van·ning.
  1. to transport or carry (freight, passengers, etc.) in a van.
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verb (used without object), vanned, van·ning.
  1. to travel in a van.
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Origin of van2

First recorded in 1820–30; short for caravan

van3

[van; Dutch vahn]
preposition (often initial capital letter)
  1. from; of (used in Dutch personal names, originally to indicate place of origin).
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Origin of van3

From Dutch

van4

[van]
noun
  1. a wing.
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Origin of van4

1400–50;late Middle English, variant of fan1

Van

[van; for 1, 2 also Turkish vahn]
noun
  1. Lake, a salt lake in E Turkey. 1454 sq. mi. (3766 sq. km).
  2. a town on this lake.
  3. a male given name.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for van

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Tell Mrs. Van Geist if she can't come down, I'll run up to her.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Mrs. Van Geist fixed her niece with a sudden look of suspicion.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • A lovely girl, my dear Mrs. Van Dam,' she said; 'a privilege to know her.

  • I'm pretty sure that Mrs. Van Dam dislikes to see us together.

  • We all laughed hysterically, and then Mrs. Van Dam and John went away.


British Dictionary definitions for van

van1

noun
  1. short for caravan (def. 1)
  2. a covered motor vehicle for transporting goods, etc, by road
  3. British a closed railway wagon in which the guard travels, for transporting goods, mail, etc
  4. British See delivery van
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van2

noun
  1. short for vanguard
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van3

noun tennis, mainly British
  1. short for advantage (def. 3) Usual US and Canadian word: ad
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van4

noun
  1. any device for winnowing corn
  2. an archaic or poetic word for wing
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Word Origin

C17: variant of fan 1

Van

noun
  1. a city in E Turkey, on Lake Van. Pop: 377 000 (2005 est)
  2. Lake Van a salt lake in E Turkey, at an altitude of 1650 m (5400 ft): fed by melting snow and glaciers. Area: 3737 sq km (1433 sq miles)
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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 van

n.1

"front part of an army or other advancing group," c.1600, shortening of vanguard.

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n.2

"covered truck or wagon," 1829, shortening of caravan.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper