from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A grid, usually of parallel metal bars, set at ground level in a road or gateway as a barrier to cattle while allowing the passage of vehicles and pedestrians.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • a trench under a railroad track and alongside a crossing (as of a public highway). It is intended to prevent cattle from getting upon the track.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A device to prevent cattle from straying along a railroad-track at a highway-crossing.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a bridge over a ditch consisting of parallel metal bars that allow pedestrians and vehicles to pass, but not cattle


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  • "The immediate progenitor of the automotive cattle guard is the railroad cattle guard, an American innovation dating back at least to 1836. The ultimate progenitor of the cattle guard is the flat stone stile of Cornwall, England, where grids of granite bars placed over pits in public footpaths have been in existence for more than 2,000 years.

    . . . The term 'cattle guard' is generally used in the Southern Plains, while from Nebraska north the terms 'auto gate' or 'car gate' are common. In the Prairie Provinces, a cattle guard usually refers to the railroad variety, while those on highways are called 'Texas gates.'"

    - From the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

    July 16, 2010