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[loh-kuh-moh-tiv] /ˌloʊ kəˈmoʊ tɪv/
a self-propelled, vehicular engine, powered by steam, a diesel, or electricity, for pulling or, sometimes, pushing a train or individual railroad cars.
an organized group cheer, usually led by a cheerleader, as at a football or basketball game, that begins slowly and progressively increases in speed in such a way as to suggest a steam locomotive.
Archaic. any self-propelled vehicle.
of or relating to locomotives.
of, relating to, or aiding in locomotion or movement from place to place:
the locomotive powers of most animals.
moving or traveling by means of its own mechanism or powers.
serving to produce such movement; adapted for or used in locomotion:
locomotive organs.
having the power of locomotion:
an animal that is locomotive at birth.
Origin of locomotive
1605-15; < Latin locō, ablative of locus place + motive (adj.); compare Medieval Latin in locō movērī to change position
Related forms
locomotively, adverb
locomotiveness, locomotivity, noun
unlocomotive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for locomotive
  • Science isn't a locomotive moving ever forward, gathering new knowledge at a slow, steady pace.
  • Riding in the cab of a locomotive moving at the rate of more than a mile a minute is rather an exciting experience in any case.
  • When it is fully built, the machine will be about the size of a small steam locomotive, and will be powered by steam.
  • But toward the end, when they mounted railroad wheels on the time machine and pushed it down the tracks with the locomotive.
  • But this reprieve has expired, and the employment train now lacks a locomotive.
  • He crossed at night, a locomotive headlight affixed to either each of the cable.
  • The steam locomotive was also one of the first victims of labor and environmental backlash.
  • The light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, a speeding locomotive headed right for you.
  • It toppled into a ditch, the locomotive turning on its side.
  • The train now arriving on platform one is a series of connected railroad cars pulled by a locomotive.
British Dictionary definitions for locomotive


  1. Also called locomotive engine. a 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 Forms
locomotively, adverb
locomotiveness, 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
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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
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Slang definitions & phrases for locomotive


  1. A cheer that resembles a steam locomotive starting: We all had to stand up and give him a locomotive (1950s+ Students)
  2. A strong motive force; prime mover: free trade, which has been a locomotive of prosperity since World War II

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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