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Re: Trolley vs Tram

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 01, 2005

In Reply to: Re: Trolley vs Tram posted by Brian from Shawnee on June 30, 2005

: : : : : : In the UK, when you go supermarket shopping, you collect the goods in a 'trolley'. In the US it's a 'cart'.
: : : : : : In the UK a patient will often be put on a form of elevated stretcher with wheels, also called a 'trolley'. What's it called elesewhere?

: : : : : In the U.S., that's a "gurney," although in the hospital it will sometimes be called (informally) a "cart." "Wagon" is slang for ambulance. "Trolley" is not often used in the U.S., as it is associated with street transportation vehicles on rails or tracks, almost universally replaced by "buses," on rubber tires. A tea trolley is still a trolley, but a relatively rare household object.

: : : : Thanks. The word's not even in my large Collins Dictionary in this sense! The only reference is to a WW1 Irish poet. I gather that the word itself MAY derive from a Daniel Gurney, who invented a type of wheeled cart in the US in the 1830s. I've never heard it used in the UK.
: : : : What's the word for 'trolley/gurney' in other parts of the English speaking world?

: : : Interesting. "Gurney" is familiar enough to be used by lay people, or on TV hospital dramas without elaboration.

: : Americans are familiar with the word "trolley" used for a small cart. But they are even more familiar with the "trolley car," a street car getting its power from an overhead electrical line by means of a "trolley pole." In Europe the device for taking off power from the electric line is somewhat different, and is often called a pantograph. And streetcars in Europe are sometimes called trams or tramways.
: : You will likely find conflicting reasons given for the disappearance of most of the trolley lines that were so very common in the U.S. before World War I, and for a time afterwards. Some authorities cite financial reasons, others mention the fact that oil companies and automobile manufacturers cooperated to buy up many trolley companies with the sole intention of putting them out of business. SS

: That's funny. Merriam Webster's m-w.com site doesn't have the definition for "tram" that I'm familiar with. A tram here in the U.S. is a string of cars pulled by a tractor, used to ferry passengers from location to location, usually in a resort or amusement park setting. If you ever go to the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, you can even buy a T-shirt that says "Watch the tram cars, please", which is a reference to the incessant recordings that play as the tram cars roll down the middle of the boardwalk.

: Pantographs are known here, too, but it's a fairly technical term that most folks riding the electrified commuter trains here in New Jersey probably don't know. The Newark City Subway currently has plans to replace the "trolley wire system" with a new catenary system with pantograph equipped vehicles.

You're quite right, Brian, about the modern use of tram. I don't think those little carts were around when the trolley cars were in their heyday. SS