AskDefine | Define toboggan

Dictionary Definition

toboggan n : a long narrow sled without runners; boards curve upward in front v : move along on a luge or toboggan [syn: luge]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


From tabaganne, probably from tepaqan or udãbãgan, influenced by similar words in other Eastern Canadian Indian languages.


  • a UK /təˈbɒɡ.ən/, /t@"bQg.@n/
  • a US /təˈbɑːɡ.ən/
  • Rhymes with: -ɒɡən


  1. a flat-bottomed sled with no runners, as used by Canadian Indians
    • 1847: Abraham Gesner, ''New Brunswick; with Notes for Emigrants: Comprehending the Early History, an Account of the Indians, Settlement, Topography, Statistics, Commerce, Timber, Manufactures, Agriculture, Fisheries, Geology, Natural History, Social and Political State, Immigrants, and Contemplated Railways of that Province
      The old toboggan has been laid aside, and sleighs or waggons dash along the streets.
    • 1877: John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms, 2nd ed. enlarged
      Toboggan has not yet found its Way into the dictionaries, and there are other ways of spelling it.
    • 1889: John G. Donkin, Trooper and Redskin in the Far North-west: Recollections of Life in the North-west Mounted Police
      These animals are harnessed by a padded collar to a light flat sleigh, of skins stretched across a frame of thin wood, called a toboggan.
    • 2006: Cornelius Osgood, Winter''
      The steer dog next to the sleigh prevents this by immediately leading off at a sixty-degree angle from the direction the others are going, thereby compensating for the sidewise stress and keeping the toboggan in the clear until the bend has been passed.
  2. a light sled, mainly used for sliding down hills for pleasure
    • 1882: Louis Prosper Bender, Old and New Canada. 1753-1844: Historic Scenes and Social Pictures, Or, The Life of Joseph-Francois Perrault
      Nothing could be more exciting and exhilarating than a slide, on sleigh or toboggan, from the lofty summit of the ice-mound or cone down to its base.
    • 1885: A. T. Tucker (Alfred Thomas Tucker) Wise, Alpine Winter in Its Medical Aspects: With Notes on Davos Platz, Wiesen, St. Moritz, and the Maloja
      The toboggan may be described as a flat plank turned up at one end.
    • 1887: Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, David Kennedy, David Kennedy: The Scottish Singer : Reminiscences of His Life and Work
      A toboggan consists of two pieces of bark joined side by side and curved up at the front.
    • 2006: Rita Tregellas Pope, Landmark Visitors Guide Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly
      Trenance Park has gardens, a toboggan run, miniature golf and the indoor delights of Water World with its tropical fun pool and flumes.
  3. (southern US) a winter hat or ski mask
    • 1915: William Rush Dunton, Occupation therapy
      Suppose we wish to make a pointed cap, such as used to be known as a toboggan cap, from yarn or worsted.
    • 1992: Wallace Neal Briggs, Riverside Remembered
      Sissy bounded back in dressed in a heavy sweater and toboggan.
    • 2005: Dave Smith, Life's Too Short to Be an Underdog...And Other Spiritual Life Lessons I Learned from My Dog
      If you must adorn your dog with a hat, go with a toboggan-style hat. If It was good enough for Snoopy, It Is definitely good enough for your dog.
    • 2006 Frances Stegall, Grass Roots: 80 Years in Bailey Co.
      We used an old toboggan stuffed with cotton for the ball, and it served the purpose very well.
  4. Something which, once it startsitalbrac figuratively going downhill, is unstoppable until it reaches the bottom.
    • 1907: Joe Vila, The Sporting News, read in Gordon H. Fleming, The Unforgettable Season (2006)
      McGinnity began to hit the toboggan in 1906, after he had pitched his arm off the previous year. Last season his efforts at times were painful.
    • 1948: U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing before the Committee on Banking and Currency, on S.J. Res. 157, joint resolution to aid in protecting the Nation's economy against inflationary pressures. 80th Congress, 2nd Session July 29-August 4, 1948
      If we were to hit the toboggan of a depression, wages would drop.
    • 1989: C.W. Peterson, Wake Up, Canada!: Reflections on Vital National Issues
      Farming was on “the toboggan.” New settlers who had purchased land could not meet their deferred payments.
    • 2003: Jim Harrison, Off to the Side
      The fact that I agreed showed that there was no hope of getting off the toboggan more than momentarily.
    • 2005: Richard Allan (EDT) Davison, The Art of the American Musical: Conversations with the Creators
      We all have found out that once a show goes into rehearsal, it's a toboggan slide and there's not enough time. So we had six months of preproduction meetings.



  1. to slide down a hill on a toboggan or other object
    • 1887: E. Katherine (Emily Katherine) Bates, A Year in the Great Republic
      Mr. Macaulay, the landlord, insisted upon trying to "toboggan" us down the mountain on the saddle cloth of one of the horses, an attempt that ended of course in disaster, for the surface was much too small for the three of us, and the snow too soft for the purpose.
    • 1888: Alfred Thomas Tucker Wise, Alpine winter in its medical aspects
      The aspect of this patient was greatly changed for the better; she was able to skate, toboggan, and mount 500 feet of Maloja Pass without fatigue.
    • 1916: William John Thomas, (John) Doran, Henry Frederick Turle, Joseph Knight, Vernon Horace Rendall, Florence Hayllar, Notes and Queries
      I froze my toes some years ago, while tobogganing, and was unaware of it until I took off my shoe and walked across the room, when the unusual noise on the boards attracted my attention.
    • 2006: Nita Hughes, The Cathar Legacy
      The hillside, lined with a coating of wet leaves ready to toboggan her down the slope, made her grateful for a few saplings that provided handholds.
  2. to italbrac figuratively go downhill unstoppably until one reaches the bottom.
    • 1945: US House of Representatives, ''1945 extension of the Reciprocal trade agreements act. Hearings before the Committee on finance, United States Senate, Seventy-ninth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3240, an act to extend the authority of the President under section 350 of the Tariff act of 1930, as amended, and for other purposes.
      A depression in one nation can become the slide on which our civilization would toboggan into economic collapse.
    • 2006: Keith Dixon, Altered Life''
      I can't win, can I? You think I'm posh and my folks think I'm tobogganing down-market faster than the royal family.



  • /ɡɑ̃/|lang=fr


  1. slide (toy)

Extensive Definition

this sled A toboggan is a simple sled used on snow, to carry one or more people (often children) down a hill or other slope, for recreation. Designs vary from simple, traditional models to modern engineered composites. A toboggan differs from most sleds or sleighs in that it has no runners or skis on the underside. The bottom of a toboggan rides directly on the snow. The Olympic version of this sport is bobsleigh, which extends the curved front of the toboggan to full sidewalls and includes runners. Some parks include designated toboggan hills where ordinary sleds are not allowed and which may include toboggan runs similar to bobsleigh courses.
The traditional toboggan is made of bound, parallel wood slats, all bent forward at the front to form a sideways 'J' shape. A thin rope is run through the top of the loop to provide rudimentary steering. The frontmost rider places their feet in the loop and sits on the flat bed; any others sit behind them and grasp the waist of the person before them.
Modern recreational toboggans are typically manufactured from wood or aluminum. Larger, more rugged models are made for commercial or rescue use.
The toboggan is a traditional form of transport used by the Innu and Cree of northern Canada.
The Mountaineer [Innu] method is the only one adapted for the interior parts of the country: their sleds are made of two thin boards of birch; each about six inches broad, a quarter of an inch thick, and six feet long: these are fastened parallel to each other by slight battens, sewed on with thongs of deer-skin; and the foremost end is curved up to rise over the inequalities of the snow. Each individual who is able to walk, is furnished with one of these; but those for the children are proportionately less. On them they stow all their goods, and also their infants; which they bundle up very warm in deer-skins. The two ends of a leather thong are tied to the corners of the sled; the bight or double part of which is placed against the breast, and in that manner it is drawn along. The men go first, relieving each other in the lead by turns; the women follow next, and the children, according to their strength, bring up the rear; and, as they all walk in rackets [snowshoes], the third or fourth person finds an excellent path to walk on, let the snow be ever so light (Townsend 1911:357–358).
Togoggans are used by most ski patrols to transport patients. Most are made of fiberglass and have attached handles extending from the front. In this case, a patroller skis while positioned between handles. Some ski patrol toboggans have a second set of handles at the rear for a seconds ski patroller, or a safety line attached to the rear. Most ski patrol toboggan handles are hinged so that they can be folded backwards either for storage or uphill transport on ski lifts.


  • Townsend, Charles Wendell, ed. (1911). "Sixth Voyage, 1786," Captain Cartwright and his Labrador Journal, Boston: Dana Estes & Company.
toboggan in German: Toboggan
toboggan in Finnish: Pulkka
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1