Definition of trolley in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrɒli/

noun (plural trolleys)

1British A large metal basket or frame on wheels, used for transporting heavy or large items, such as supermarket purchases or luggage at an airport or railway station.
Example sentences
  • The group's services range from treatments to harden metals for aero-engines to providing the shine on metals used in supermarket trolleys.
  • We pay for trolleys in airports and supermarkets, and for parking we either scratch a permit, ‘pay and display’ or ‘park and ride’.
  • Supermarket trolleys and burned-out cars replaced the brightly coloured barges that once proudly carried grain, coal, wool, salt and timber.
1.1A small table on wheels or castors, typically used to convey food and drink.
Example sentences
  • Without missing a beat, another aide approached the table, wheeling a trolley heaped with food.
  • One businessman was told there were too many people on board and they could not wheel trolleys with hot drinks as it was a safety hazard.
  • Satine turns to a trolley with food and drink on it, and picks up a bottle of Champagne from the ice bucket.
1.2A hospital bed on wheels for transporting patients.
Example sentences
  • Patients on trolleys line hospital corridors, queuing for days to access beds in a system strained by the sheer volume of demand.
  • The results of that study emerged after a survey revealed 140 patients were waiting on trolleys in hospitals and around the country yesterday.
  • As a result, ambulance crew were unable to answer emergency calls until normal hospital trolleys were found for patients.
2 (also trolley wheel) A wheel attached to a pole, used for collecting current from an overhead electric wire to drive a tram.
Example sentences
  • In later years, the tarries were electrified, and poles held the trolley wire.
  • They also had to replace the trolley pole when it escaped from the overhead wire.
3 short for trolleybus or trolley car.
Example sentences
  • Electric trolleys, which received their power from an overhead wire and returned it through the rails, provided the system that finally made the horse obsolete.


off one's trolley

informal Mad; insane.
Example sentences
  • ‘I reckon you're off your trolley,’ she says with surprising insight.
  • If, ten years ago, anyone had proposed that children in British schools should be taught in any other language than English they too would have been vilified and accused of being ‘off their trolley.’
  • Then of course there are those who are quite literally off their trolley.


Early 19th century: of dialect origin, perhaps from troll2.

Words that rhyme with trolley

Barbirolli, brolly, collie, dolly, folly, golly, holly, jolly, lolly, Mollie, molly, nollie, Ollie, polly, poly, volley, wally

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: trol|ley

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