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

  • n. The metal grille or frame projecting from the front of a locomotive and serving to clear the track of obstructions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The V-shaped device on the front of a locomotive (or other large vehicle) shaped so as to push objects on the tracks out of the way, to prevent major damage to the train.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A strong inclined frame, usually of wrought-iron bars, in front of a locomotive engine, for catching or throwing off obstructions on a railway, as cattle; the pilot.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A strong frame in front of a locomotive, for removing obstructions, such as strayed cattle, from the rails.

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

  • n. an inclined metal frame at the front of a locomotive to clear the track


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The cowcatcher was a large and important structure in the early days of railroading, but it has become relatively useless with the decrease of grade crossings and the construction of more complete lines of fence.

    The Doctrine of Evolution Its Basis and Its Scope

  • And I never had much trouble with the Spiggoties, what of letting them sneak free rides in the tender or on the cowcatcher.


  • And then I spotted her, crouched down right against the cowcatcher, that close I'd almost stepped on her.


  • New Yorkers called the lot "the cowcatcher" or "the flatiron, because its triangular shape recalled the common household tool used for pressing clothing and linens."

    Book review of "Flatiron," about a Manhattan landmark

  • Hmmm, unless I'm much mistaken this is the Agricultural Android Model 350 complete with abdominal cowcatcher.

    Ferre: Abs Fab

  • "They took Nellie down to the tracks, but were most upset to find she wouldn't fit and while they were wondering what ever to do they were gently scooped up by the cowcatcher of the Elmer K. Pheffenfeifer, which was just pulling out for the Deep South."

    A Wonderful, Eccentric, Brilliant Man (and His Book)

  • Need a cowcatcher on the front of the truck, just like that Dodge in the remake of Death Race.

    Cheeseburger Gothic » Escaping New York.

  • We need a cowcatcher to clear traffic! and a bagpipe and fiddle song playing in the background on repeat.

    Ann Aguirre » Blog Archive » …she’s ba’-a-a-a-ck…

  • My brother dashed out of the house, ran to the end of our lane and discovered a mangled mass jammed on the cowcatcher of the massive locomotive.

    Chicken Soup for the Soul: Loving Our Dogs

  • Sophie sat down hard, her feet splayed out, her lower lip pushed out like the cowcatcher on a steam engine.

    A Dirty Job HTML


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  • In railroading, the pilot is the device mounted at the front of a locomotive to deflect obstacles from the track that might otherwise derail the train. Archaically this was called a cowcatcher, and this is still the common layman's usage, but this term is deprecated and has not been used by railroad workers for more than a century.


    February 4, 2008

  • In "Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz" by George Saunders, used of the folded paper holder that a hot dog comes in. (Heard in act two of this This American Life episode.

    December 1, 2007