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

  • n. A small open railroad car propelled by a hand pump or small motor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A light railroad car propelled by a hand-operated pumping mechanism

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a small car propelled by hand, used by railroad laborers, etc.
  • n. See under Car.
  • n. a small railroad car propelled by hand or by a small motor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A light portable car used on railroads in the inspection and repair of the tracks. It has four wheels (sometimes, for special uses, three, two running on one rail and the third on the other), and is propelled by means of cranks or levers geared to the wheels and worked by hand or by treadles.

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

  • n. a small railroad car propelled by hand or by a small motor


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • UPDATE: It's called a handcar, and thanks to Atara Rich-Shea, who read the entire Thomas the Engine official site to cull this information for me.

    Archive 2005-07-01

  • Already the handcar was a hundred yards away, flitting into distance like some big, wonderfully fast bug, the figures of the men at the pumps rising and falling with a walking-beam regularity.

    The Escape of Mr. Trimm His Plight and other Plights

  • Those terrific old handcars with the seesaw type of double handle so one guy would push down while the other guy facing him pulled up, and then vice versa, and the handcar would go zipping along the track, that old kind of handcar that guys like Buster Keaton used to travel on, they don’t have them anymore.

    Drowned Hopes

  • Nevertheless, according to The New York Times, the Japanese twice tried to kill Willkie—once when they machine-gunned a railway carriage and a second time when he and his party were riding a handcar.

    The Last Empress

  • We can stop freaking out about the shit-pit and get the hell off the handcar.

    Reality and Bullshit

  • One of my classmate's father worked for the TeePee and had a rail handcar that he went to work in and then came home in at night, parking his handcar in a little tin garage just off the tracks with its own set of tracks.

    Once Upon a Railroad

  • That man would stop the handcar, then pick up one end of it, then push it around and down its tracks into its garage.

    Once Upon a Railroad

  • These people own matching shoes, take the subway to work (I ride my handcar), heat their baked beans up in a microwave (I eat mine cold).

    Archive 2006-01-01

  • For rousing, tingling, rapturous pleasure there is no holiday trip that approaches the bird-flight down the Himalayas in a handcar.

    Mark Twain: A Biography

  • Two days later, Judah, assisted by three officials of the company, carried a handcar to the tracks and took the first ever railroad ride in California, for a distance of four hundred feet.

    Nothing Like It in the World The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869


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