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See also railroads; ships; travel.

a mania for being in vehicles.
an abnormal fear of being in or riding in vehicles.
the study of unusual and distinctive licence plate numbers.
Obsolete, carriage; the act of conveying.
an abnormal fear of vehicles.
the study of motor buses.
a system of transportation in which cars or gondolas, usually powered by electricity, are suspended below wire cables.




  1. Beechcraft Twin [airplane] … its wings flapping hectically like a fat squawking goose unable to get itself aloft —Herbert Lieberman
  2. Brakes squawk like Donald Duck —Joyce Cary
  3. The bus rode on the highway, like a ship upon the sea, rising and falling on hills that were like waves —Nathan Asch
  4. Buzz of traffic … like the hum of bees working a field of newly blossomed clover —James Crumley
  5. Car accelerated silently like a lioness which has sighted the prey —Elizabeth Spencer
  6. A car is just like a gun. In the wrong hands it is nothing less than an instrument of death —Charles Portis
  7. Car … ran as if lubricated with peanut butter —Peter De Vries
  8. Cars shot by like large bees —Cynthia Ozick
  9. Cars … their taillights like cigarette embers —Daphne Merkin
  10. The cloud of exhaust [from car] rose like a sail behind them —Alice Mc Dermott
  11. The engines [of a Mercedes] ticking like wizard-made toy millipedes —Saul Bellow
  12. The exhaust [of car] bloomed in the air like a bizarre, blue-white flower —William Dieter
  13. Felt about cars the way Casanova felt about women —Mike Fredman
  14. Guzzles gas the way computers gobble up bytes —Anon
  15. Headlights [of cars on highway] flash by like a procession of candles —Stuart Dybek
  16. Like a wasp rising from a rose, a helicopter chut-chut-chutted toward them —Will Weaver
  17. The limousine slid to the curb and nestled there, sleek as a wet otter stretched out in the noonday sun —Paige Mitchell
  18. The … limousine slid up to the curb, like a great, rolling onyx —Hortense Calisher
  19. The motor [of car engine] sounded like a polishing drum with a dozen new agates turning inside —Will Weaver
  20. Parked cars … stretched like a file of shiny beetles —Donald MacKenzie
  21. Planes humming across the sky like bees —H. E. Bates
  22. [A car] polished until light glanced off it like a knife —Jayne Anne Phillips
  23. The power of the big tractor drew the plow through the damp earth like a potter’s knife through wet clay —Will Weaver
  24. A Rolls Royce glittering like a silver tureen —Saul Bellow
  25. The rumbles of the big diesel engine were like ocean surf —Will Weaver
  26. A ship … its masts jabbing the sky like upended toothpicks —Francis King
  27. (The bus) spews out fumes black and substantial as octopus oil —W. P. Kinsella
  28. Square black automobiles … like glossy black beetles —Robert Silverberg
  29. Taillights [of car] gleaming like malevolent eyes —Stanley Elkin
  30. Taillights red as smudged roses —Richard Ford
  31. Tires humming like inflated snakes —John Hawkes
  32. Tractors [at night] … like neon tetras drifting in the dark tank of the fields —Will Weaver
  33. Train … wriggling like some long snake —Natsume Soseki
  34. The windshield wipers [of the car] kicked like a weary dance team —Elizabeth Spencer



Black Maria A van for conveying prisoners. This U.S. colloquial term reputedly derives from a Black woman named Maria Lee who ran a lodging house for sailors in Boston. Apparently she was a prodigious woman whom the police called on when they needed extra strength to handle rambunctious prisoners. Eventually her name became associated with the van which rounded up prisoners and carried them to jail or court.

A new Black Maria, … a new wagon for the conveyance of prisoners to and from the courts of justice. (Boston Evening Traveller, September 25, 1847)

bone-shaker A facetious name for early model bicycles; later applied to similarly unsteady automobiles such as the early model Fords. Since the first bicycles lacked rubber tires and other modern cushioning conveniences and few roads were paved, their ride was something less than smooth and comfortable. The term was in use as early as 1874.

bucket of bolts An irreverent American slang term for an old run-down car that rattles and shakes noisily when moving, producing a sound similar to the rattling of a bucketful of bolts or screws.

meat wagon An ambulance. This slang expression alludes to the damaged human flesh transported to hospitals in these emergency vehicles.

We’ll need a couple of meatwagons. The minister and two other people were killed and … there’re a lot of injured. (E. McBain, Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here, 1971)

This expression often includes both paddy wagons and hearses.

paddy wagon A patrol wagon; an enclosed truck or van used by the police to transport prisoners; a Black Maria. Paddy, a corruption of the common Irish name Patrick, was once used as a nickname for anyone of Irish descent. Since many police officers in major cities at the turn of the century were Irish, their patrol wagons came to be known as paddy wagons by association. Although the ethnic implications were gradually lost after the 1920s, the expression has remained in widespread use.

Police who attempted to enforce city segregation rules met with a torrent of jeers, and several tennis players who sat down on the courts had to be carried to paddy wagons. (Aurora [Illinois] Beacon News, November 7, 1948)

panda car A police car. This British colloquialism undoubtedly alludes to the appearance of English police cars: small, white vehicles with a broad horizontal blue stripe along the middle.

rattletrap A rickety old car that rattles and clatters and shakes while in motion; a dangerously dilapidated vehicle.

References in classic literature ?
The equipages are as varied as the company and attract as much attention, especially the low basket barouches in which ladies drive themselves, with a pair of dashing ponies, gay nets to keep their voluminous flounces from overflowing the diminutive vehicles, and little grooms on the perch behind.
The scouts departed; strong guards preceded and followed the lumbering vehicles that bore the baggage; and before the gray light of the morning was mellowed by the rays of the sun, the main body of the combatants wheeled into column, and left the encampment with a show of high military bearing, that served to drown the slumbering apprehensions of many a novice, who was now about to make his first essay in arms.
He loved the old rumbling and jolting carts, the former track of which he still found in his long-buried remembrance, as the observer of to-day finds the wheel-tracks of ancient vehicles in Herculaneum.
When horses and vehicles began to move along the highway, with that alert perception peculiar to a state of excitement, and which seems to be a sort of inspiration, she became aware that her headlong pace and distracted air might bring on her remark and suspicion.
All day long the vehicles dash along the avenue, and nurses, children, and tourists sit in the shade of the trees, or lean on the railing and watch the schools of fishes darting about in the clear water, or gaze out over the lake at the stately border of snow-hooded mountains peaks.
Ten o'clock came, and the noise of vehicles ceased, scattered lights began to wink out, all straggling foot- passengers disappeared, the village betook itself to its slumbers and left the small watcher alone with the silence and the ghosts.
Simpson spent little time with his family, owing to certain awkward methods of horse-trading, or the "swapping" of farm implements and vehicles of various kinds,-- operations in which his customers were never long suited.
Before Magdalen could push her way through the crowd -- before her all-mastering anxiety to help her sister had blinded her to every other consideration, and had brought her, self-betrayed, to Norah's side -- an open carriage passed the pavement slowly, hindered in its progress by the press of vehicles before it.
The idea was so acceptable in the prevalent absence of any idea, that the crowd caught it up with eagerness, and loudly repeating the suggestion to have 'em out, and to pull 'em out, mobbed the two vehicles so closely that they came to a stop.
Surely, however it would be possible to build these vehicles in a
In the same manner he led the rest to the vehicles, in which they packed themselves with some difficulty.
He ordered his cooks and butlers, who were already prepared, to give me victuals and drink, which they pushed forward in a sort of vehicles upon wheels, till I could reach them.

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