Definition of cowcatcher
: an inclined frame on the front of a railroad locomotive for throwing obstacles off the track
cowcatcher was our Word of the Day on 11/03/2006. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
New Jersey's Camden and Amboy Railroad was the first in the U.S. to adopt the cowcatcher, adding it to its John Bull locomotive in the early 1830s. But, as the Model Railroader Cyclopedia warned, "don't ever let a railroad man hear you use 'cowcatcher.'" In its heyday, railroad workers preferred the name "pilot" for that v-shaped frame which, aside from pushing aside obstacles, helped to guide the train around curves. In the 1940s and '50s "cowcatcher" jumped the tracks and took on a new life in TV and radio advertising jargon. The term was used for a commercial that was aired immediately before a program and that advertised a secondary product of the program's sponsor. Such ads apparently got the name because they "went in front."
First Known Use of cowcatcher
COWCATCHER Defined for Kids
Definition of cowcatcher for Students
: a strong frame on the front of a railroad engine for moving things blocking the track
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