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Obscure. A number of possibilities have been suggested: 1) a dialectical word; 2) a word related to the name of the now-forgotten inventor; 3) a derivation from Tamil கல்வெட்டு (kalveṭṭu, inscription) (கல் (kal, stone) + வெட்டு (veṭṭu, cut) cut stone), a Tamil term for a carved stone bridge allowing passage of a stream below; 4) a derivation of French couvert (covered), although couvert is not used in this sense and the French translation of culvert is "ponceau" or "buse de drainage"; and 5) a derivation from an unrecorded Dutch word, possibly *coul-vaart, equivalent to coul- from French -- compare couler (to flow) + vaart (a trip by boat, a canal).


culvert (plural culverts)

  1. A transverse channel under a road or railway for the draining of water.
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room, Vintage Classics, paperback edition, page 91
      A raft of twigs stayed upon a stone, suddenly detached itself, and floated towards the culvert.
    • 1996, Janette Turner Hospital, Oyster, Virago Press, paperback edition, page 167
      After she left, I ran away for a day, and hid myself, solitary, in a culvert under the railway lines.



culvert (third-person singular simple present culverts, present participle culverting, simple past and past participle culverted)

  1. To channel (a stream of water) through a culvert.


  • culvert at OneLook Dictionary Search