Note: A cart may also be short for cartridge, particularly in the radio industry, where 8-track cartridges (and later CDs and zip drives) were used. Also, CART can be used as the acronym for the Center for Advanced Research and Technology in California.

A cart is a vehicle or device using, usually, two wheels for transport. A dray is a heavy transport version of a cart, usually with four wheels.

Hand-carts pushed by humans have been used around the world. In the 19th century, for instance, some Mormons travelling across the plains of the USA between 1857 and 1865 used handcarts. Perhaps the most common example toady is the shopping cart, which has also come to have a metaphorical meaning in relation to online purchases.

A cart transporting watermelons in , . You can see that the two men are sitting well forward to ensure that the load is downward on the shafts that the horse is supporting. You can see one shaft running along the visible side of the animal.
A cart transporting watermelons in Harbin, China. You can see that the two men are sitting well forward to ensure that the load is downward on the shafts that the horse is supporting. You can see one shaft running along the visible side of the animal.

Larger carts may be drawn by animals, such as horses, mules, or oxen. Carts may be named by what pulls them such as horsecarts or oxcarts. Such a cart can have the traditional alternative name of wain, (from the old English and German root-words for waggon) for example a haywain, and the builders of such vehicles became known as "cartwrights" or "wainwrights". These terms survive as surnames of those descended from those practising these trades. Note too the surname "Carter".

Carts have many different shapes but the basic idea of transporting material (or maintaining a collection of materials in a portable fashion) remains. Carts usually have two or four wheels. Those with four wheels (drays or wagons) will often have a pivoting front axle that has a pole connected to the collars or yoke of the two guiding draught animals. The traces from the draught animals are connected to the pivoting axle and then, by chain, to the rear axle. Two-wheeled carts normally have shafts, one along each side of the draught animal that supports the forward-balanced load in the cart. The shafts are supported by a saddle on the horse. The draught traces attach to the axle of the vehicle. In all cases the traces are attached to a collar (on horses), to a yoke (on other heavy draught animals) or to a harness on dogs or other light animals. One-horse carts are common, on the other hand drays are pulled by many animals, as many as 8 or 10 depending on what is being hauled.

Traces are made from a range of materials depending on the load and frequency of use. Heavy draught traces are made from iron or steel chain. Lighter traces are often leather and sometimes hemp rope but plaited horse-hair and other, similar, decorative materials can be used.

The golf cart, used to save a golfer and their clubs the tiresome business of walking, is another well known modern type of cart.

The Dray is often associated with the transport of barrels, particularly of beer.

The term "Kart", derived from "cart", refers to a small racing car - also known as a "Go-Kart".

A soap-box cart (a.k.a a Billy Cart, Go-Cart, Trolley etc.) is a popular children's construction project.

See also: baby transport, carriage, chariot, sulky, wagon, wain, wheelbarrow.

CART stands for Championship Auto Racing Teams (now known as Champcars).


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