English Wikipedia has an article on:
A steam locomotive with a bright red cowcatcher


cow +‎ catcher


cowcatcher (plural cowcatchers)

  1. (rail transport, principally US) The V-shaped device on the front of a locomotive (or other large vehicle) shaped so as to push objects on the tracks out of the way, to prevent major damage to the train.
    • 1942 February, “Notes and News: An Historic American Locomotive”, in Railway Magazine, page 56:
      With its long tapered cowcatcher, massive headlamp and enormous diamond smokestack behind, wagon-top boiler, high running-plate above the driving-wheels reached from a front door in the square side-window cab, cylinders with slide valves mounted on top, and double bogie tender, General in its present form is typical of much earlier American locomotive practice.
    • 2016, Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad, Fleet (2017), page 83:
      The locomotive was black, an ungainly contraption led by the triangular snout of the cowcatcher, though there would be few animals where this engine was headed.
    • 2023 January 11, Richard Foster, “British Rail's weirdest railways...: Wisbech & Upwell Tramway”, in RAIL, number 974, page 46:
      It was a rural railway that served the fertile Fens of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. But because it flanked public roads and was unfenced (to save costs), it was deemed a tramway and its locomotives had to be fitted with a cowcatcher.
    Synonym: pilot
  2. (radio, advertising) An advertisement at the start of a programme.
    Coordinate term: hitchhiker
    • 1945, Broadcasting (volume 29, page 55)
      Hitchhiker and cowcatcher plugs will be considered.
    • 1945, Charles Harold Sandage, Radio Advertising for Retailers (page 185)
      National advertisers have probably been major contributors to this practice through the use of so-called hitchhike and cowcatcher announcements.
    • 2009, George Ansbro, I Have a Lady in the Balcony (page 138)
      Sometime in the mid-40s, the Hummerts canceled Mr. Keen and Easy Aces from their early evening periods on CBS, which also killed my cowcatchers and hitchhikes.


  • 1951, Eugene Fred Seehafer, Jack William Laemmar, Successful radio and television advertising (page 207): "A cowcatcher announcement is one aired at the very beginning of a radio program, as soon as the broadcast goes on the air and the program has been introduced to listeners."

See alsoEdit