Definition of traffic in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrafik/


1Vehicles moving on a road or public highway: a stream of heavy traffic
More example sentences
  • On that night we had reports across the city of burglaries, car crime, public order incidents, domestic violence, road traffic accidents.
  • The bill will also restrict the powers of telecommunications companies to disrupt traffic flow by opening roads for cable laying.
  • The usual emergencies such as fires or road traffic accidents will not elicit a response from these vehicles, even with the crews and fire engines on station.
cars, trucks
1.1A large number of vehicles moving on a road: we were caught in traffic on the expressway
More example sentences
  • I promise that never again will you have to run amidst moving traffic to catch the 6.15 local to work.
  • Trains were not delayed by the sudden downpour and motorists caught in traffic had time to wind up windows against the dramatic shower.
  • Now everyone, from motorists caught up in traffic to commuters crammed in overcrowded trains, can back the calls for a better funding deal by signing a
a traffic jam, congestion, a gridlock, a holdup, a bottleneck, a tie-up
informal a snarl-up, a logjam
1.2The movement of other forms of transportation or of pedestrians: managing the air traffic was a mammoth task
More example sentences
  • He also stated that the lane was inadequate width, thus preventing two-way vehicular traffic and pedestrian movement.
  • Any major disruption to shipping and air traffic can and will leave us without a supply of food.
  • There is no central verge, though pedestrian and vehicular traffic are heavy especially during evenings.
1.3The transportation of goods or passengers: the increased use of railroads for goods traffic
More example sentences
  • They also agreed to encourage an increase in railway passenger traffic between Sofia and Thessaloniki.
  • After the First World War, passenger numbers declined, as road transport improved but freight traffic remained buoyant.
  • He gave evidence of the transfer of passenger and mail traffic to the railway route through Liverpool.
1.4The messages or signals transmitted through a communications system: data traffic between remote workstations
More example sentences
  • This technology transmits broadband traffic over medium voltage power lines.
  • They also showed that on-board systems ignored the Bluetooth traffic generated by an infected mobile phone.
  • A network is operated such that message forwarding traffic is shared among routers in a load-sharing set.
2The action of dealing or trading in something illegal: the traffic in stolen cattle
More example sentences
  • Drug-dealers earn nigh-on incredible sums from the illegal traffic in drugs.
  • The traffic in illegal drugs is a global problem, and money-laundering schemes take many forms.
  • And those pressures create a lucrative traffic in illegal workers, filling the war chests of criminals.
trade, trading, trafficking, dealing, commerce, business, buying and selling;
smuggling, bootlegging, black market;
dealings, transactions
3 archaic Dealings or communication between people.

verb (traffics, trafficking, trafficked)

[no object]
Deal or trade in something illegal: the government will vigorously pursue individuals who traffic in drugs
More example sentences
  • Thailand is a major market for drugs trafficked from neighboring countries, most notably Myanmar.
  • He catches animals and birds, he traffics in legal and illegal products.
  • And finally, no group trafficked in more illicit liquor than the bootleggers.
trade (in), deal (in), do business in, buy and sell;
smuggle, bootleg
informal run, push



Example sentences
  • Then he turns and points to the road heading straight on, the almost trafficless road heading towards some blue distant hills.
  • I'm thinking the deep inland high deserts and a nice crumbling trafficless farm road are the way to go
  • Based on a startling true story, the show takes us down the trafficless roads and on to the unspoilt paradise beaches of a tiny isolated island in the Bahamas.


Early 16th century (denoting commercial transportation of merchandise or passengers): from French traffique, Spanish tráfico, or Italian traffico, of unknown origin. Sense 1 dates from the early 19th century.

  • Borrowed from French traffique, or the Spanish or Italian equivalents, this originally referred to commercial transportation of merchandise or passengers. The sense ‘vehicles moving on a public highway’ dates from the early 19th century. The traffic warden first appeared in London in 1960. Traffic calming is a translation of German Verkehrsberuhigung and arrived on British roads in the late 1980s. See also jam. Nowadays trafficking implies dealing in something illegal, especially drugs, but in the mid 16th century to traffic was a neutral term meaning ‘to buy and sell, trade’. By the end of that century, though, it had started to take on negative connotations.

Words that rhyme with traffic

autobiographic, autographic, bibliographic, biographic, calligraphic, cartographic, choreographic, cinematographic, cryptographic, demographic, geographic, graphic, hagiographic, historiographic, holographic, hydrographic, iconographic, lithographic, monographic, orthographic, palaeographic (US paleographic), photographic, pictographic, pornographic, reprographic, Sapphic, seraphic, stenographic, telegraphic, typographic, xerographic

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: traf·fic

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