Definition of wagon in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈwaɡ(ə)n/
(British also waggon)


1A vehicle used for transporting goods or another specified purpose: a timber wagon a breakdown wagon
More example sentences
  • Years ago the refuse wagon had a trailer on the back for waste paper and cardboard.
  • Only ammunitions wagons and ambulances were brought up to the immediate rear lines.
  • They cornered Loudon Lane only to find a coal wagon blocking their way.
1.1A four-wheeled trailer for agricultural use: a hay wagon
More example sentences
  • The barn had a high central alley, tall enough for a threshing machine or a hay wagon.
  • After we had bailed the hay then we would get the long wagons and load the hay.
  • Side by side they travel, combine and wagon, until the bin on the combine is empty.
1.2British A railway freight vehicle; a truck: a milk wagon
More example sentences
  • Transport officials said one of the rear wagons may have derailed first, pulling others off the line.
  • The remainder of his working life was spent at the carriage and wagon department at Swindon railway works.
  • I travelled by foot, by hitch-hiking and by clambering onto the wagons of freight trains.
1.3A light horse-drawn vehicle, especially a covered one used by early settlers in North America and elsewhere.
Example sentences
  • At one point, they neared a horse and wagon that had a wheel wedged deep into the earth.
  • One spring when he was hauling some logs, his wagon wheels sank down to the axles in mud.
  • She felt the wagon being covered, then felt motion as the driver urged the horses on.
1.4chiefly North American A wheeled cart or hut used as a food stall: a chip wagon
More example sentences
  • He wandered around and came to a cook wagon preparing some food.
  • Mobile food wagons rather than traditional catering facilities are the order of the day.
  • The cart, disguised as a kerosene peddler's wagon, was suspicious because it had no spigot to dispense fuel.
1.5A vehicle like a caravan used by Gypsies or circus performers.
Example sentences
  • Sullivan stood staring at a colorful gypsy wagon lumbering down a side lane out of sight.
  • Once the council realises its mistake and I'm allowed to stay, I'll get gypsy wagons down here to repair and put on show.
  • He then built a big top and circus wagons, which were all painted their trademark ‘Giffords red’.
1.6 informal short for station wagon.
Example sentences
  • The lines on the cars are more defined and crisp than on previous Peugeot sedans and wagons.
  • I certainly see there is plenty of good automotive art in this mix of new models and concept wagons.
  • Exterior styling is a mix between a sports sedan and a luxury wagon, with the seating position of an SUV.
2Irish informal An unpleasant or disliked woman.


on (or off) the wagon

informal Abstaining (or not abstaining) from drinking alcohol: Monty was supposed to be on the wagon
More example sentences
  • He is, for now, on the wagon, having recognised he has alcohol and financial problems.
  • Jack is an aspiring writer, three months on the wagon after his alcoholism caused family problems.
  • After his dark drinking days, O'Neil clambered on the wagon only to find his Dad determined to drag him off.


Late 15th century: from Dutch wagen; related to wain.

  • The Dutch word wagen is the source of our wagon. It is related to wain (Old English), an old word for ‘wagon’ that is now mainly encountered in the name of a star formation Charles's Wain, now more commonly called the Plough. Wainscot (Middle English) is from Middle Low German wagenschot, apparently from wagen ‘wagon’ and schot, probably meaning ‘partition’. If you are on the wagon you are avoiding alcohol. The original version of this expression was on the water wagon, which first appeared in America in the early 20th century. A water wagon was a sort of barrel on wheels which was used to water dusty streets. These vehicles had been around since the early 18th century at least, but it may have been the increasing popularity of the temperance movement in the latter part of the 19th century that gave rise to the phrase. See also hitch

Words that rhyme with wagon

dragon, flagon, lagan, pendragon

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: wagon

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