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An articulated lorry (sense 1) in London, UK
A rusty lorry (sense 1) in Kenya

Uncertain; perhaps from dialectal English lurry (to lug or pull about, drag),[1] or from the forename Laurie.[2] First attested in early to middle 19th century.



lorry (plural lorries)

  1. (chiefly British) A large and heavy motor vehicle designed to carry goods or soldiers; a truck
    Synonyms: rig, truck, (if used to pull a semitrailer) semi-trailer truck
    • 1918, Edith Wharton, chapter IX, in The Marne, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton and Company, →OCLC, pages 87–88:
      But whenever one of the motor-trucks lumbering by bore a big U.S. on its rear panel Troy pushed his light ambulance ahead and skimmed past, just for the joy of seeing the fresh young heads rising pyramid-wise about the sides of the lorry, hearing the snatches of familiar songs—"Hail, hail, the gang's all here!" and "We won't come back till it's over over here!"—and shouting back in reply to a stentorian "Hi, kid, beat it!", "Bet your life I will, old man!"
    • 1968, Peter G. Hollowell, “The Lorry Driver’s Career”, in The Lorry Driver (The International Library of Sociology; 154), London: Routledge and Kegan Paul; New York, N.Y.: Humanities Press, →OCLC; republished Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, 1998 (2007 printing), →ISBN, page 61:
      The most frequent age for starting in the actual occupation of lorry driving is 17 years. Trampers tend to start later, the mode amongst them being 19 years. The mean average age for beginning in lorry driving in the sample is between 21 and 23 years. The mean average number of years spent in lorry driving varies according to the type of driver.
    • 1987, Richard Pool, “Prisoner of War”, in Course for Disaster: From Scapa Flow to the River Kwai, London: Leo Cooper, Heinemann, →ISBN, page 164:
      Our journey through the streets of Singapore awoke strange emotions. Very little of the structural damage seemed to have been repaired beyond make-shift patchwork. The streets had a dingy and forlorn look. We arrived outside the British American Tobacco building and had our first experience of the shouting and hustlings that accompanied all Japanese supervision of our movements. We were shouted at to get out of the lorry with our baggage and make out way into the building.
    • 2003, John C. Kennedy, “The Child”, in Last Lorry to Mbordo: Misadventures in Nation Building: A Novel, Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, →ISBN, page 176:
      The plantain lorry caught up with them in a blind curve. Jeff caught a glimpse of the driver's face in the mirror as he fought to swing the old truck out around the car. At that moment Jeff heard the sound of the horn of a vehicle coming up the road. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the old lorry beside him; its driver desperately trying to avoid the passenger lorry coming up the scarp.
    • 2005, Nagindra Mohan Kachroo, “Nostalgic Home Fires”, in Moments of Melancholy: (A Basket of Short Stories), New Delhi: S. B. Nangia, A. P. H. Publishing Corporation, →ISBN, page 129:
      At the platform in Pathankot, they must have overheard me asking the porter handling my luggage that I wanted to go to the lorry stand for Kashmir. [...] There were no buses then, some primitive contraptions called lorries. A far cry from the spacious and comfortable buses of the present day. They were not only rudimentary and crude, they also travelled very slow.
    • 2019, “I love my juggernaut”, in The Pothole Song Album[1], performed by Richie Kavanagh:
      I know I swing me Volvo all around you market square. I know you think that lorry drivers, we just don't care. But the streets are so narrow, built so many years ago. They were built for horses' carts, not juggernauts you know.
    • 2023 March 8, Howard Johnston, “Was Marples the real railway wrecker?”, in RAIL, number 978, page 51:
      There was also the influx of a third of a million road lorries, sold at giveaway prices after their war roles ceased and used by competing one-man businesses to skim off sundry agricultural freight.
  2. (road transport, Singapore, Malaysia) a truck with an open carriage
  3. (dated) A barrow or truck for shifting baggage, as at railway stations.
  4. (dated) A small cart or wagon used on the tramways in mines to carry coal or rubbish.
    • 1916 December 7, “Youngstown’s New Coke Oven Plant”, in A. I. Findley, Geo[rge] W. Cope, W. W. Macon, editors, The Iron Age, volume 98, number 23, New York, N.Y.: David Williams Co., →OCLC, page 1271:
      The mixing 48-in. belts lie flat and run from the bottom of the mixer bins to two coal mixers which deliver the coal to a reversing 42-in. belt conveyor, taking it to either one of two 36-in. belts, running to the top of two larry bins. Each larry bin is located between two batteries of ovens, [...] Under the larry bins are provided platform scales which enable the larry operator to fill his larry with the exact amount of coal to charge an oven.
    • 1936 July, W. J. Fene, C. W. Owings, “Cases of Explosions in Tipples and Cleaning Plants”, in Explosions of Coal Dust in Tipples and Cleaning Plants and Some Suggestions on Preventing Them (United States Bureau of Mines Information Circular; 6895), Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Mines, United States Department of the Interior, →OCLC, pages 4 and 5:
      [page 4] [T]he larry had been filled to overflowing. When the controller was moved to the third point there was a jarring of the larry, which shook off more of the fine coal and created a dust cloud that enveloped the larry. This dust cloud was ignited by an arc at the wheels. The flame enveloped the larry and the operator, who was standing at the footboard at the controls. He received severe burns on the hands, forearms, face, and neck. [...] [page 5] Coal dust should be kept from tracks on which electric locomotives or slate larries travel.
    • 2008, Andreas Steimel, “Basic Principles”, in Electrical Traction – Motive Power and Energy Supply: Basics and Practical Experience, Munich: Oldenbourg Industrieverlag, →ISBN, section 1.2 (Historical Development of Electrical Railwaying), page 2:
      Having had a precursor in the tracks ground into Roman roads (with a width similar to modern standard gauge, 1435 mm or 4ft 8.5in), Europe only saw the return of track systems in the early modern age, in the shape of mining railways: wooden lorries, operating on wide wooden rails and guided by a track nail between the two rails.
  5. (obsolete) A large, low, horse-drawn, four-wheeled cart without sides; also, a similar wagon modified for use on railways.
    Synonym: dray
    • 1838 February 16, Fred[eric]k W. Karstadt, W. Mellush, “Minutes of Evidence”, in Report from the Select Committee on Railroad Communication; [], [London]: Ordered, by the House of Commons [of the United Kingdom], to be printed, published 28 March 1838, →OCLC, paragraph 1183, page 103:
      In order that these very important mails might not be unnecessarily delayed, we procured an express engine, and having, as is customary in such cases, fastened those for Manchester and the North on a larry between the engine and the Post-office, they being too bulky to travel in the latter, we departed at 8.10, [...] On our arrival at the next station, Crewe, we were much alarmed at the intelligence received from the engineer, that one of the bags on the larry, which proved to be the Carlisle, was on fire: [...]
    • 1846, “Instructions to Plate-layers”, in Rules and Regulations to be Observed by Engine-men & Others Employed on the East Lancashire Railway, Manchester: Printed by Shaw and M‘Corquodale, →OCLC, page 20:
      Platelayers, or others, who may have hand lorries or waggons on the line without engines, are strictly charged never to have the same on the line so as to be in the way of a coming train, except for some indispensable purpose, and then special care must be taken to warn any approaching train by proper signal in sufficient time.
    • 1887 March 14, John F. Hartigan, “[Cartage of Camp Equipments. (Contracts for Years 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1889, and 1890.)] Cartage for Camp Equipment, Material and Stores for Permanent and Volunteers Forces, for Easter Encampment at National Park and Middle Head, 1887.”, in New South Wales. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly during the Session of 1890, with the Various Documents Connected therewith. In Eight Volumes, volume II, Sydney, N.S.W.: Charles Potter, government printer, [], published 9 July 1890, →OCLC, page 216:
      For the services of horses and conveyances as may be required at either camp, at a charge per diem to be stated in tender, specifying single horse carts and four horse lorries.
    • 1890 May 6, Andrew Garran, John Macintosh, witness, “Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. Minutes of Evidence. Cable Tramway from King-street, via William-street, to Ocean-street.”, in New South Wales. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly during the Session of 1891–2, with the Various Documents Connected therewith. In Eight Volumes, volume V, Sydney, N.S.W.: Charles Potter, government printer, [], published 1892, →OCLC, paragraph 937, page 36:
      [Garran.] Would it make any difference to you whether the tramway were worked by horses or by cable? [Macintosh.] It would not matter to me, so long as I could get into my premises. We have, perhaps, one of the largest businesses, in heavy material, in Pitt-street, and this traffic is carried on by lorries. If a tramway were laid down in the street, we should not be able to get into our premises.
    • 1909 October 15, Thomas Mason Wilford, “Address in Reply”, in New Zealand. Parliamentary Debates. First Session, Seventeenth Parliament. [] (House of Representatives), volume 146, Wellington: John Mackay, government printer, →OCLC, page 237, column 1:
      In Barton's case it was a State Coal Department lorry that hit him and smashed him and the Government would not admit that the State Coal Department lorry was a public work.
    • 1920 December 24, “Madras Mill Riots. Police Commissioner’s Report.”, in The Pioneer Mail and Indian Weekly News, volume XLVII, number 52, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh: The Pioneer and Civil & Military Gazette, Limited, →OCLC, page 20, column 3:
      The stoning continued heavily from the crowd following in rear and from the fresh crowd, until they reached a spot some 50 yards from the mill. [...] Dawson observed from his position in the Police lorry which was in rear of the mill lorry, that the horses were being hit and giving trouble. He also saw stones falling on the cooly lorry, and Police lorry. The mill lorry being covered in with expanded metal, none of its occupants were hurt.
    • 1936, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Journal, St. Louis, Mo., Detroit, Mich.: Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, →OCLC, page 19, column 2:
      Ties should never be hauled on a motor car, but they may safely be hauled on a lorrie car properly coupled to a motor car.

Usage notes[edit]

In Singapore, "lorry" is usually used for smaller vehicles and "truck" is usually used for larger vehicles.

Alternative forms[edit]


  • (motor vehicle for goods transport): vehicle

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]




lorry (third-person singular simple present lorries, present participle lorrying, simple past and past participle lorried)

  1. (transitive, also figurative) To transport by, or as if by, lorry.
    • 1869 December 18, T. T. W., “Lurry”, in Notes and Queries: A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, General Readers, etc., volume IV (4th Series), London: Published at the office, 43 Wellington Street, Strand, W.C., →OCLC, page 550, column 2:
      He lorried away with a whole pile of things, and cheated the bailiffs.
    • 2002, Norman Brooke, chapter 7, in Half-pint Heroes: The Bantams of World War One, London: Janus Publishing Company, →ISBN, page 62:
      The midday meal at 1230hrs for 'C' and 'D' Companies would be followed by them parading at the camp gates for lorrying to Hazebrouck.
    • 2011, Penelope Pansy, “Time Goes By”, in The Story of Penelope Pansy, [s.l.]: Penelope Pansy, →ISBN, page 52:
      [S]he had bought three jars of baby food, for convenience, and was busy lorrying them into me when I unintentionally spurted a huge mouthful all over her magnificent blouse and skirt.
    • 2014, D. G. Holliday, Damage: A Novel of the Great War, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire: Matador, →ISBN, page 13:
      At a lamplit corner I signalled a cross-bearing transport, and to low salutations of 'Evening, sir,' was hoisted up, bag and all, and swiftly lorried away.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ lorry, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1903.
  2. ^ lorry, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]



lorry m (plural lorrys or lorries)

  1. (rail transport) lorry

Further reading[edit]