Definition of travel |

[ trav-uhl ]

/ ˈtræv əl /


verb (used without object), trav·eled, trav·el·ing or (especially British) trav·elled, trav·el·ling.

to go from one place to another, as by car, train, plane, or ship; take a trip; journey: to travel for pleasure.

to move or go from one place or point to another.

to proceed or advance in any way.

to go from place to place as a representative of a business firm.

to associate or consort: He travels in a wealthy crowd.

Informal. to move with speed.

to pass, or be transmitted, as light or sound.

Basketball. (of a player in possession of the ball) to take more than two steps without dribbling or passing the ball.

to move in a fixed course, as a piece of mechanism.

verb (used with object), trav·eled, trav·el·ing or (especially British) trav·elled, trav·el·ling.

to travel, journey, or pass through or over, as a country or road.

to journey or traverse (a specified distance): We traveled a hundred miles.

to cause to journey; ship: to travel logs downriver.


the act of traveling; journeying, especially to distant places: to travel to other planets.


  1. journeys; wanderings: to set out on one’s travels.
  2. journeys as the subject of a written account or literary work: a book of travels.
  3. such an account or work.

the coming and going of persons or conveyances along a way of passage; traffic: an increase in travel on state roads.

Basketball. an instance of traveling with the ball.


  1. the complete movement of a moving part, especially a reciprocating part, in one direction, or the distance traversed; stroke.
  2. length of stroke.

movement or passage in general: to reduce the travel of food from kitchen to table.


used or designed for use while traveling: a travel alarm clock.



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Origin of travel

Middle English (Northern and Scots), originally the same word as travail (by semantic change from “to toil, labor,” then “to make a laborious journey,” then “to journey,” a change that did not occur in French and other Romance languages). The spelling travel is due to a shift in accent in the 14th century; verb senses were first recorded in 1250–1300; noun senses were first recorded in 1400–50

usage note for travel

The word travel has come to exemplify a common spelling quandary: to double or not to double the final consonant of a verb before adding the ending that forms the past tense ( –ed ) or the ending that forms the present-participle ( –ing. ) We see it done both ways—sometimes with the same word ( travel, traveled, traveling; travel, travelled, travelling ). As readers, we accept these variations without even thinking about them. But as writers, we need to know just when we should double that final consonant and when we should not. Because American practice differs slightly from British practice, there is no one answer. But there are well-established conventions.
In American writing, when you have a one-syllable verb that ends with a single vowel followed by a single consonant, and you want to add a regular inflectional ending that begins with a vowel, you double that final consonant before adding -ed or -ing : stop, stopped, stopping; flag, flagged, flagging. This principle also holds for verbs of more than one syllable if the final syllable is stressed: permit, permitted, permitting; refer, referred, referring. If that syllable is not stressed, there is no doubling of the final consonant: gallop, galloped, galloping; travel, traveled, traveling.
British spelling conventions are similar. They deviate from American practices only when the verb ends with a single vowel followed by an l . In that case, no matter the stress pattern, the final l gets doubled. Thus British writing has repel, repelled, repelling (as would American writing, since the final syllable is stressed). But it also has travel, travelled, travelling and cancel, cancelled, cancelling, since in the context of British writing the verb’s final l, not its stress pattern, is the determining factor. Verbs ending in other consonants have the same doubling patterns that they would have in American writing. An outlier on both sides of the Atlantic is the small group of verbs ending in -ic and one lonely -ac verb. They require an added k before inflectional endings in order to retain the appropriate “hard” sound of the letter c : panic, panicked, panicking; frolic, frolicked, frolicking; shellac, shellacked, shellacking. Canadians, of course, are free to use either British or American spellings.


trav·el·a·ble, adjectivenon·trav·el·ing, adjectivenon·trav·el·ling, adjectiveouttravel, verb (used with object), out·trav·eled, out·trav·el·ing or (especially British) out·trav·elled, out·trav·el·ling.

pre·trav·el, noun, verb, pre·trav·eled, pre·trav·el·ing or (especially British) pre·trav·elled, pre·trav·el·ling.un·trav·el·ing, adjectiveun·trav·el·ling, adjective

Words nearby travel

traumatopnea, trav., travail, Travancore, trave, travel, travel agency, travel agent, travelator, traveled, traveler Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Words related to travel

trek, driving, ride, flying, excursion, tour, transit, movement, navigation, trip, sailing, sightseeing, fly, sail, proceed, migrate, move, visit, drive, cross

Example sentences from the Web for travel

British Dictionary definitions for travel


/ (ˈtrævəl) /

verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled (mainly intr)

to go, move, or journey from one place to anotherhe travels to improve his mind; she travelled across France

(tr) to go, move, or journey through or across (an area, region, etc)he travelled the country

to go, move, or cover a specified or unspecified distance

to go from place to place as a salesmanto travel in textiles

(esp of perishable goods) to withstand a journey

(of light, sound, etc) to be transmitted or movethe sound travelled for miles

to progress or advance

basketball to take an excessive number of steps while holding the ball

(of part of a mechanism) to move in a fixed predetermined path

informal to move rapidlythat car certainly travels

(often foll by with) informal to be in the company (of); associate


  1. the act of travelling
  2. (as modifier)a travel brochure Related adjective: itinerant

(usually plural) a tour or journey

the distance moved by a mechanical part, such as the stroke of a piston

movement or passage

Word Origin for travel

C14 travaillen to make a journey, from Old French travaillier to travail

Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012


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