tractor

Definitions

Agriculture

  • noun a heavy vehicle with large wheels used for a range of tasks. On farms it is mainly used for pulling cultivation and spraying equipment.

Aviation

Construction

  • A vehicle on tracks or wheels used for towing or operating equipment.

Origin & History of “tractor”

Tractor is one of a large family of English words that come from tractus, the past participle of Latin trahere ‘pull’ (others include abstract (14th c.), attract, contract, detract (15th c.), distract (14th c.), extract (15th c.), retract, subtract, trace, tract (14th c.), tractable (16th c.), traction (17th c.), trait, treat, treatise, and treaty). Tractor itself was originally used in English for a device, invented by the 18th-century American doctor Elisha Perkins, for ‘pulling’ across the surface of the skin, which was supposed to relieve rheumatic pains. It was not applied to a ‘vehicle for pulling loads’ until the end of the 19th century.

From Latin trahere itself come English retreat and train; and drag may go back to the same ultimate source.
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