Does "vehicle" usually include airplanes, aircraft or spacecraft?

Or does it mainly refer to wheeled vehicles, boats and ships?

And does "vehicle" include trains?

4 Answers 4


Yes. Vehicle can refer to any of those things. From vocabulary.com:

A vehicle is anything that transports a person or thing, usually a car. But a vehicle can be a truck, a plane, a bus, a blimp or even a shopping cart, anything that transports people or things.

So yes. Although it's most commonly a wheeled vehicle such as a car or truck, it can refer to airplanes, aircraft, or spacecraft. And of course, it can refer to trains, as well.

  • In AmE at least, "vehicle" can be used as a generic term to encompass any of automobiles - cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles. If you told someone you are bringing your vehicle and show up with a shopping cart or 10-speed non-motorized bike, they would laugh at you, even though you are technically correct. But you can say "This shopping cart is a vehicle for groceries" without raising (too many) eyebrows. If you want the word vehicle to encompass more than cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles, say something like "Any wheeled vehicle (including planes, bikes) ..."
    – LawrenceC
    Feb 6, 2015 at 18:05
  • @ultrasawblade If you'd like, you could probably turn your comment into an answer.
    – user230
    Feb 7, 2015 at 22:20

Does "vehicle" usually include airplanes, aircrafts or spacecrafts? Or it mainly refers to wheeled vehicles, boats and ships?

The words mainly and usually are rather troublesome words in your question.

The meaning of vehicle – much like the meaning of any word with multiple definitions or interpretations – depends on the context. If I said, "It costs a lot to register a vehicle in Kentucky," chances are I'm only referring to cars, pickup trucks, and motorcycles. However, if I work as a logistician for a major company, and I say, "We need to determine the best vehicles for getting these widgets from factory to market," chances are I am referring ships, trains, large trucks, or aircraft. And if I talk about needing a vehicle to put a satellite into orbit, I don't mean any of those things.

If I heard the word with no other context, as in a word association game, chances are I would initially think of motor vehicle, which would make me think of car first, then perhaps other similar vehicles, such as trucks and motorcycles, but that wouldn't preclude the word from being used in other ways.

Also, I'm not sure the logistician would use the word vehicle; words like conveyance might be more common in that context.

This Ngram might lead one to conclude that the word vehicle "mainly" refers to wheeled vehicles: that is, cars and trucks. Personally, I'm not comfortable with saying that, because that makes it sound like other uses of the word are somehow odd, unusual, or less acceptable. Other uses of the word may be less common, but that's hardly the same as unusual or awkward.

  • "We need to determine the best vehicles for getting these widgets from factory to market," I would understand to mean a figurative meaning, such as "What sort of marketing campaign". "What vehicles" means what particular ships, trains, etc. If you're asking whether you'll use ships in general versus trains in general, that would be "Transportation method". Nov 9, 2018 at 19:34

Also, the word Vehicle is used as

  1. A medium for expression or achievement of something. For example, The play was just a vehicle to display her talents. *His editorials provided a vehicle for his political views*.

  2. Any object (as a towel, money, clothing, dishes, books or toys etc.) that can transmit infectious agents from one person to another.

  3. Any substance that facilitates the use of a drug, pigment or other material that is mixed with it.

  • 2
    Hi Vijaya! Did you write this list yourself, or did you get it from a dictionary or other resource? If you got it from another resource, can you please include a link to that source?
    – WendiKidd
    Oct 19, 2013 at 0:18
  • 1
    Its from Wordweb dictionary software installed in my system pal. Oct 19, 2013 at 5:32

Yes, many dictionaries include trains and even spacecrafts. But as accepted answer's author stated, it's most commonly a wheeled vehicle such as a car or truck. Thus the term I'd use is "automotive systems".

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