AskDefine | Define truck

Dictionary Definition



1 an automotive vehicle suitable for hauling [syn: motortruck]
2 a handcart that has a frame with two low wheels and a ledge at the bottom and handles at the top; used to move crates or other heavy objects [syn: hand truck] v : convey (goods etc.) by truck; "truck fresh vegetables across the mountains"

User Contributed Dictionary




Etymology 1

Perhaps a shortening of truckle, related to Latin trochus, 'iron hoop, wheel'.


  1. A small wheel or roller, specifically the wheel of a gun-carriage.
    • 1843, James Fenimore Cooper, Wyandotte, Chapter 3
      "Put that cannon up once, and I'll answer for it that no Injin faces it. 'Twill be as good as a dozen sentinels," answered Joel. "As for mountin', I thought of that before I said a syllable about the crittur. There's the new truck-wheels in the court, all ready to hold it, and the carpenters can put the hinder part to the whull, in an hour or two
  2. The ball on top of a flagpole.
  3. On a wooden mast, a circular disc of wood at the top of the mast, usually with holes or sheaves to reeve signal halyards.
    "But oh! shipmates! on the starboard hand of every woe, there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight, than the bottom of the woe is deep. Is not the main-truck higher than the kelson is low? Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 9.
  4. A semitractor trailor; a lorry.
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, Babbit, Chapter 1
      A line of fifty trucks from the Zenith Steel and Machinery Company was attacked by strikers-rushing out from the sidewalk, pulling drivers from the seats, smashing carburetors and commutators, while telephone girls cheered from the walk, and small boys heaved bricks.
  5. In the context of "originally|US": Any motor vehicle designed for carrying cargo, also including vans and pickups.
  6. A garden cart, a two-wheeled wheelbarrow.
  7. A small wagon pushed or pulled by hand or (obsolete) pulled by an animal, of various designs, as with those in hotels for moving luggage, or in libraries for transporting books for reshelving.
    • 1906, Upton Sinclair, The Jungle Chapter 3
      From the doors of these rooms went men with loaded trucks, to the platform where freight cars were waiting to be filled; and one went out there and realized with a start that he had come at last to the ground floor of this enormous building.
  8. A pantechnicon.
  9. A flatbed railway car.
  10. The pivoting frame of a railway car that supports the wheels and allows them to make turns.
    • 1913, D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
      Far away he could hear the sharp clinking of the trucks on the railway. No, it was not they that were far away. They were there in their places. But where was he himself?''
  11. The part of a skateboard that joins the wheels to the deck, consisting of a hanger, baseplate, kingpin, and bushings. Sometimes mounted with a riser in between.
top of a flagpole
vehicle designed for carrying cargo
two-wheeled wheelbarrow
wagon See wagon
pantechnicon See pantechnicon
pivoting frame of a railwaycar
part of skateboard


  1. To drive a truck.
  2. To convey by truck.
  3. To travel contentedly.
    Keep on trucking!
  4. (film production) To move a camera parallel to the movement of the subject.
Derived terms
drive a truck

Etymology 2

Middle English trukien, from unrecorded Anglo-Norman and Old French words (attested in mediaeval Latin trocare), of unknown origin.


  1. To trade, exchange; barter.
  2. To engage in commerce; to barter or deal.
  3. To have dealings or social relationships with; to engage with.
trade See trade


  1. (often used in plural sense) Small, humble items; things, often for sale or barter.
    1884 There was sheds made out of poles and roofed over with branches, where they had lemonade and gingerbread to sell, and piles of watermelons and green corn and such-like truck. — Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 20.
    1911 ''It happened in this way, on a day when I was indulging in a particularly greenery-yallery fit of gloom. Norah rushed into my room. I think I was mooning over some old papers, or letters, or ribbons, or some such truck in the charming, knife-turning way that women have when they are blue. — Edna Ferber, Dawn O'Hara, the Girl who Laughed'', Chapter 5.
  2. Garden produce, groceries (see truck garden).
    1923 I obtained my first view of a lunar city. It was built around a crater, and the buildings were terraced back from the rim, the terraces being generally devoted to the raising of garden truck and the principal fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Moon Maid, Chapter 10.
  3. (usually with negative) Social intercourse; dealings, relationships.
    1890 'How can I decide?' said I. 'You have not told me what you want of me. But I tell you now that if it is anything against the safety of the fort I will have no truck with it, so you can drive home your knife and welcome.' — Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four.
Derived terms


  1. Pertaining to a garden patch or truck garden.
    November 4, 1792 ''As the home house people (the industrious part of them at least) might want ground for their truck patches, they might, for this purpose, cultivate what would be cleared. But I would have the ground from the cross fence by the Spring, quite round by the Wharf, first grubbed, before the (above mentioned) is attempted. — George Washington, The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 32, 1745-1799.
    1903 "Wid dat, Brer Rabbit 'low dat Mr. Man done been had 'im hired fer ter take keer er his truck patch, an' keep out de minks, de mush-rats an' de weasels. — Joel Chandler Harris, "Brother Rabbit's Cradle", New Stories of the Old Plantation'', Chapter 11
Usage notes
For this etymology, the word is virtually obsolete. It really only survives as a fossil in the construction to have no truck with. In the US, the derived term truck garden is often confused with Etymology 1, in the sense "produce raised to be trucked to market''.



  1. truck

Extensive Definition

A truck is a vehicle for carrying goods and materials. The word "truck" possibly derives ultimately from the Greek "trochos", meaning "wheel." In North America, the big wheels of wagons were called trucks. When the gasoline-engine driven trucks came into fashion, these were called "motor trucks." Lorry is a term from the United Kingdom and Ireland, but is only used for the medium and heavy types (see below), i.e. a van, a pickup or a Jeep would never be regarded as a "lorry." Other languages have loanwords based on these terms, such as the Malay language and the Spanish language in northern Mexico.
In Australia and New Zealand a small vehicle with an open back is called a ute (short for "utility vehicle") or a pick-up and the word "truck" is reserved for larger vehicles.
In the United States a commercial driver's license is required to drive any type of vehicle weighing more than 26,001 lb.


Trucks can use all sorts of engines. Small trucks such as SUVs or pickups, and even light medium-duty trucks in North America and Russia will use gasoline engines. Most heavier trucks use four stroke turbo intercooler diesel engines, although there are alternatives. Huge off-highway trucks use locomotive-type engines such as a V12 Detroit Diesel two stroke engine.
North American manufactured highway trucks almost always use an engine built by a third party, such as CAT, Cummins, or Detroit Diesel. The only exceptions to this are Volvo and its subsidiary Mack Trucks, which are available with own engines. Freightliner, Sterling Trucks and Western Star, subsidaries of DaimlerChrysler, are available with Mercedes-Benz and Detroit Diesel engines. Trucks and buses built by the Navistar International can also contain International engines. The Swedish truckmaker Scania claims they stay away from the U.S.-market because of this third party tradition.
In the European union all truck engines must comply with Euro 4 regulations, the regulations will become more severe in 2008 with the introduction of Euro 5.


Small trucks use the same type of transmissions as almost all cars which have either an automatic transmission or a manual transmission with synchronisers. Bigger trucks often use manual transmissions without synchronisers which have less bulk and weight although synchromesh transmissions are used in larger trucks as well. Transmissions without synchronisers known as "crash boxes" require double clutching for each shift, (which can lead to repetitive motion injuries), or a technique known colloquially as "floating," a method of changing gears which doesn't use the clutch, except for starts and stops, due to the physical effort of double clutching especially with non power assisted clutches, faster shifts, and less clutch wear. Double clutching allows the driver to control the engine and transmission revolutions to synchronize, so that a smooth shift can be made e.g. when upshifting, accelerator pedal is released and the clutch pedal is depressed while the gear lever is moved in to neutral, clutch pedal is then released and quickly pushed down again while the gear lever is moved to the next highest gear. Finally, the clutch pedal is released and accelerator pedal pushed down to obtain required engine rpms. Although this is a relatively fast movement perhaps a second or so while transmission is in neutral it allows the engine speed to drop and synchronize engine and transmission revolutions relative to the road speed. Downshifting is performed in a similar fashion except the engine speed is now required to increase (while transmission is in neutral) just a right amount in order to achieve the synchronisation for the smooth non-crunching gearchange. The so called skip changing is also widely used, in principle operation is the same but it requires neutral be held slightly longer than single gearchange. Common North American setups include 9, 10, 13, 15, and 18 speeds. Automatic and semi-automatic transmissions for heavy trucks are becoming more and more common, due to advances both in transmission and engine power. In Europe 8, 10 and 12 gears are common on larger trucks with manual transmission, while automatic or semiautomatic transmission would have anything from 5 to 12 gears. Almost all heavy trucks transmissions are of a "range (double H shift pattern ) and split" type where range change and so called half gears or splits are air operated and always preselected before the main gears selection.
In Europe more new trucks are being bought with automatic or semi-automatic transmission. This may be due in part to lawsuits from drivers claiming that driving a manual transmission is damaging to their knees and the fuel consumption can be lowered and truck durability improved. The primary reason perhaps is the fact that such transmissions give a driver more time to concentrate on the road and traffic conditions.


The chassis or frame of a truck is commonly constructed mainly of two beams, and several crossmembers. A truck chassis consists of two parallel straight C-shaped beams, or in some cases stepped or tapered beams, these held together by crossmembers. In most instances, gussets help attach the crossmembers to the beams. The "C-shape" of the beams has a middle vertical and longer side, and a short horizontal flange at each end; the length of the beams is variable. The chassis is usually made of steel, but can be made (whole or in part) of aluminium for a lighter weight. The integrity of the chemical composition (carbon, molybdenum, etc.) and structure of the beams is of uttermost importance to its strength, and to help prevent cracking or breaking of beams, and to help maintain rigidity and flexibility of the frame, welding, drilling and other types of modifications should not be performed by unlicenced persons. The chassis is the main structure of the truck, and the other parts attach to it. A tow bar may be found attached at one or both ends.

Environmental effects

Trucks contribute to air, noise, and water pollution in a similar fashion to automobiles. In the case of air pollution emissions, trucks may actually emit lower emissions than autos on a per pound of vehicle mass basis, although the absolute level on a vehicle mile traveled basis is higher and diesel soot is especially problematic for health. With respect to noise pollution trucks emit considerably higher sound levels at all speeds compared to typical automobiles; this contrast is particularly strong in the case of heavy duty trucks.
Concerns have been raised about the effect of trucking on the environment, particularly as part of the debate on global warming. In the period from 1990 to 2003, carbon dioxide emissions from transportation sources increased by 20%, despite improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency.
In 2005, Transportation accounted for 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emission, increasing faster than any other sector.
Between 1985 and 2004, in the U.S., energy consumption in freight transportation grew nearly 53%, while the number of ton-miles carried increased only 43%. "Modal shifts account for a nearly a 23% increase in energy consumption over this period. Much of this shift is due to a greater fraction of freight ton-miles being carried via truck and air, as compared to water, rail, and pipelines."
According to a 1995 U.S. Government estimate, the energy cost of carrying a ton of freight a distance of one mile averages 514 Btu for water, 337 Btu for rail, 3,100 for trucks and nearly 20,000 for air transport. and many environment organizations favor laws and incentives to encourage the switch from road to rail, especially in Europe.

Quality and sales

Quality among all heavy truck manufacturers in general is improving, however industry insiders will testify that the industry has a long way to go before they achieve the quality levels reached by automobile manufacturers. Part of the reason for this is that 75% of all trucks are custom specified. This works against efforts to streamline and automate the assembly line.


Heavy truck leading manufacturers (alphabetically):

South America

Registrations of heavy trucks in South America (2002; % breakdown by manufacturer):

North America

On the East Coast, where routes were traditionally shorter, and because the trucks were made there, many drivers preferred Mack Trucks. While on the West Coast, the drivers preferred Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Freightliner. White built a new factory in California in the early 1960s, with long-haul trucking company Consolidated Freightways. The entity, which became White-Freightliner, then just Freightliner, catered directly to western fleets that wanted a lighter, aluminium cab and frame, and traveled longer distances without stopping. Drivers more concerned with safety than with fuel economy preferred the heavier Peterbilts and Kenworths. Kenworth and Peterbilt, which had started out as heavy-duty trucks for hauling logs, forest products, and steel for shipyards on the West Coast, anticipated the need for these lighter long-distance trucks.



  • Volvo (Australia)
  • Mack (Australia)
  • Iveco (different models for Australian market)
  • Kenworth (different models for Australian market)

Insuring trucks for commercial hauling

Primary Liability Insurance coverage protects the truck from damage or injuries to other people as a result of a truck accident. This truck insurance coverage is mandated by U.S. state and federal agencies and proof of coverage is required to be sent to them. Insurance coverage limits range from $35,000 to $1,000,000. Pricing is dependent on region, driving records, and history of the trucking operation.
Motor Truck Cargo insurance protects the transporter for his responsibility in the event of damaged or lost freight. The policy is purchased with a maximum load limit per vehicle. Cargo insurance coverage limits can range from $10,000 to $100,000 or more. Pricing for this insurance is mainly dependent on the type of cargo being hauled.

Truck Shows

In the UK, three truck shows are incredibly popular - Shropshire Truck Show in Oswestry Showground during May, The UK Truck Show held in June at Santa Pod Raceway and FIA European Drag Racing Championships from the home of European Drag-Racing. The UK Truck Show features drag-racing with 6-ton trucks from the British Truck Racing Association, plus other diesel-powered entertainment.
Truck Shows provide operators with an opportunity to win prestigious awards for their trucks.
  • Conduire un véhicule lourd, Société de l'Assurance Automobile du Québec, 7e édition, 2002 ISBN 2-551-19567-5
truck in Arabic: شاحنة
truck in Bosnian: Kamion
truck in Bulgarian: Камион
truck in Czech: Nákladní automobil
truck in Danish: Lastbil
truck in German: Lastkraftwagen
truck in Spanish: Camión
truck in Esperanto: Kamiono
truck in French: Camion
truck in Korean: 트럭
truck in Hindi: ट्रक
truck in Croatian: Kamion
truck in Indonesian: Truk
truck in Icelandic: Vörubíll
truck in Italian: Autocarro
truck in Hebrew: משאית
truck in Latvian: Kravas automašīna
truck in Lithuanian: Sunkvežimis
truck in Hungarian: Tehergépkocsi
truck in Malay (macrolanguage): Lori
truck in Dutch: Vrachtauto
truck in Japanese: 貨物自動車
truck in Norwegian: Lastebil
truck in Polish: Samochód ciężarowy
truck in Portuguese: Camião
truck in Romanian: Autocamion
truck in Russian: Грузовой автомобиль
truck in Simple English: Truck
truck in Finnish: Kuorma-auto
truck in Swedish: Lastbil
truck in Tamil: சுமையுந்து
truck in Vietnamese: Xe tải
truck in Turkish: Kamyon
truck in Ukrainian: Вантажний автомобіль
truck in Yiddish: לאסט אויטא
truck in Chinese: 载货汽车

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

DUKW, ESP, Pullman, Pullman car, answer, autotruck, baggage car, baked goods, balance of trade, bargain, barge, barter, big business, bloodmobile, boat, bookmobile, boxcar, bus, business, business dealings, buy and sell, caboose, camion, camper, canned goods, car, carriage, carryall, cart, chair car, change, clamjamfry, coach, coal car, commerce, commercial affairs, commercial relations, commodities, communication, communion, congress, connection, contact, conversation, converse, correspondence, covered waggon, day coach, deal, dealing, dealings, debris, delivery truck, diner, dinghy, dining car, do business, dolly, drawing room, dray, duck, dump truck, dust, exchange, fair trade, ferry, flat, flatcar, float, food items, free trade, freighter, give in exchange, gondola, goods, green goods, groceries, grocery, handle, haul, have truck with, horse-trade, industry, information, interaction, interchange, intercommunication, intercommunion, intercourse, interplay, junk, lighter, linguistic intercourse, litter, local, lorry, luggage van, lumber, mail car, mail van, market, marketing, mercantile business, merchandise, merchantry, message, motor truck, moving van, multilateral trade, odds and ends, packaged goods, palace car, panel truck, parlor car, passenger car, peddle, pickup, produce, raff, raft, railroad truck, railway car, reciprocal trade, reefer, refrigerator car, refrigerator truck, reply, response, restraint of trade, retail, riffraff, roomette, rubbish, rubble, scrap, sedan delivery truck, semi, semitrailer, ship, shoddy, six-by-six, sled, sledge, sleeper, small business, smoker, smoking car, social intercourse, social relations, speaking, speech, speech circuit, speech situation, stake truck, stock, stockcar, stuff, sundries, swap, swap horses, switch, take in exchange, talking, tank, telepathy, tender, the business world, the marketplace, tinned goods, touch, tractor, tractor trailer, tractor truck, trade, trade in, trade off, trade sight unseen, traffic, trailer truck, transaction, transfer, trash, truck trailer, two-way communication, unilateral trade, van, waggon, wagon, wares, wheelbarrow
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