AskDefine | Define bulldoze

Dictionary Definition

bulldoze v : flatten with or as if with a bulldozer

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. To destroy with a bulldozer.
    He's certainly very chirpy for a man whose house has just been bulldozed down.

Extensive Definition

A bulldozer is a crawler (caterpillar tracked tractor), equipped with a substantial metal plate (known as a blade), used to push large quantities of soil, sand, rubble, etc, during construction work. The term "bulldozer" is often used to mean any heavy engineering vehicle, but precisely, the term refers only to a tractor (usually tracked) fitted with a dozer blade. That is the meaning used herein.


The first bulldozers were adapted from Holt farm tractors that were used to plough fields. Their versatility in soft ground for logging and road building led directly to their becoming the armoured tank in World War I.
In 1923, a young farmer named James Cummings and a draftsman named J. Earl McLeod made the first designs for a bulldozer. A replica is on display at the city park in Morrowville, Kansas where the two built the first bulldozer.
By the 1920s, tracked vehicles became common, particularly the Caterpillar 60. To dig canals, raise earth dams, and do other earthmoving jobs, these tractors were equipped with a large thick metal plate in front. This metal plate (it got its curved shape later) is called a "blade". The blade peels layers of soil and pushes it forward as the tractor advances. Several specialized blades have been developed: for high volume loads such as coal, rakes to remove only larger boulders, or blades with razor sharp edges to cut tree stumps. In some early models the driver sat on top in the open without a cabin. These attachments, home built or by small equipment manufacturers of attachments for wheeled and crawler tractors and trucks, appeared by 1929, widespread acceptance of the bull-grader does not seem to appear before the mid-1930s, and the addition of powered down force made them the preferred excavation machine for large and small contractors alike by the 1940s, by which time the term "bulldozer" referred to the entire machine and not just the attachment.
Over the years, bulldozers got bigger and more powerful in response to the demand for equipment suited for ever larger earthworks. Firms like Caterpillar, Komatsu, Fiat-Allis, John Deere, International Harvester, Case, Liebherr, Terex and JCB manufactured large tracked-type earthmoving machines.
Bulldozers grew more sophisticated as time passed. Important improvements include more powerful engines, more reliable drive trains, better tracks, raised cabins, and hydraulic (instead of early models' cable operated) arms that enable more precise manipulation of the blade and automated controls. As an option, bulldozers can be equipped with rear ripper claw(s) to loosen rocky soils or to break up pavement (roads). A more recent innovation is the outfitting of bulldozers with GPS technology, such as manufactured by Topcon Positioning Systems, Inc., Trimble Inc., or Mikrofyn [] for precise grade control and (potentially) "stakeless" construction. The best known maker of bulldozers is probably Caterpillar which earned its reputation for making tough durable reliable machines. There are however other manufacturers of bulldozers for instance Fiat, Kumatsu or Allis Charmer. Although these machines began as modified farm tractors, they became the mainstay for big civil construction projects, and found their way into use by military construction units world-wide. Their best known model, the Caterpillar D9, was also used to clear mines and demolish enemy structures.

History of the word

  • Around 1880: In the USA, a "bull-dose" was a large and efficient dose of any sort of medicine or punishment. 'Bull-dosing' meant a severe whipping or coercion, or other intimidation such as at gunpoint.
  • 1800s: term used in engineering for a horizontal forging press.
  • 1886: "bulldozer" meant a large-caliber pistol and the person who wielded it.
  • Late 1800s: "bulldozing" meant using big force to push over or through any obstacle.
  • Later: applied to the vehicle.
These appeared as early as 1929, but were known as "bull grader" blades, and the term "bulldozer blade" did not appear to come into widespread use until the mid 1930s, and now refers to the whole machine not just the attachment. In contemporary usage, "bulldozer" is often shortened to "dozer".


Most often, bulldozers are large and powerful tracked engineering vehicles. The tracks give them excellent ground hold and mobility through very rough terrain. Wide tracks help distribute the bulldozer's weight over large area (decreasing pressure), thus preventing it from sinking in sandy or muddy ground. Extra wide tracks are known as 'swamp tracks'. Bulldozers have excellent ground hold and a torque divider designed to convert the engine's power into dragging ability , letting the bulldozer use its own weight to push very heavy things and remove obstacles that are stuck in the ground. The Caterpillar D9, for example, can easily tow tanks that weigh more than 70 tons. Because of these attributes, bulldozers are used to clear areas of obstacles, shrubbery, burnt vehicles, and remains of structures.
Sometimes a bulldozer is used to push another piece of earthmoving equipment known as a "scraper". The towed Fresno Scraper, invented in 1883 by James Porteous, was the first design to enable this to be done economically, removing the soil from the cut and depositing it elsewhere on shallow ground (fill). Many dozer blades have a reinforced center section with this purpose in mind, and are called "bull blades."
The bulldozer's primary tools are the blade and the ripper.


The ripper is the long claw-like device on the back of the bulldozer. Rippers can come singly (single shank) or in groups of two or more (multi shank rippers). Usually, a single shank is preferred for heavy ripping. The ripper shank is fitted with a replaceable tungsten steel alloy tip.
Ripping rock lets the ground surface rock be broken into small rubble easy to handle and transport, which can then be removed so grading can take place. Agricultural ripping lets rocky or very hard earth be broken up so otherwise unploughable land can be farmed. For example, much of the best land in the California wine country consists of old lava flows. With heavy bulldozers such as the Caterpillar D9 and the Caterpillar D11 the lava is shattered, allowing agriculture. Also, hard earth can be ripped and decompacted to allow planting of orchards where trees could not otherwise grow.


The bulldozer blade is a heavy metal plate on the front of the tractor, used to push objects, and shoving sand, soil and debris. Dozer blades usually come in three varieties:
  1. A Straight Blade ("S-Blade") which is short and has no lateral curve, no side wings, and can be used for fine grading.
  2. A Universal Blade ("U-Blade") which is tall and very curved, and has large side wings to carry more material.
  3. A "S-U" combination blade which is shorter, has less curvature, and smaller side wings. This blade is typically used for pushing piles of large rocks, such as at a quarry.
In military use, dozer blades are fixed on combat engineering vehicles and can optionally be fitted on other vehicles, such as artillery tractors like the Type 73 or M8 Tractor. Combat applications for dozer blades include clearing battlefield obstacles and preparing fire positions.


Bulldozers have been further modified over time to evolve into new machines which can work in ways that the original bulldozer cannot.
One example is that loader tractors were created by removing the blade and substituting a large volume bucket and hydraulic arms which can raise and lower the bucket, thus making it useful for scooping up earth and loading it into trucks.
Other modifications to the original bulldozer include making it smaller to let it operate in small work areas where movement is limited, such as in mining. A very small bulldozer is sometimes called a calfdozer: see images at
Some forms of bulldozers are commonly used in snow removal.
Nevertheless, the original earthmoving bulldozers are still irreplaceable as their tasks are concentrated in deforestation, earthmoving, ground leveling, and road carving. Heavy bulldozers are mainly employed to level the terrain to prepare it for construction. The construction, however, is mainly done by small bulldozers and loader tractors.


The National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools (NAHETS), established 2002, uses bulldozer training schools and curriculum as a method to test and train users in the ability of bulldozer use.


Bulldozers can be found on large and small scale construction sites, mines, military bases, heavy industry factories, and large governmental projects.

Armored bulldozers

main article Armored bulldozers Some bulldozers, especially bulldozers in military usage, have been fitted with armor to protect the driver from enemy fire, enabling the bulldozer to operate in battle zones. The best-known armored bulldozer is probably the IDF Caterpillar D9, used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for earthmoving, clearing terrain obstacles, opening routes, detonating explosive charges and demolishing structures under fire. The extensive use of armoured bulldozers during the Second Intifada drew controversy and criticism from human rights organizations.
Some bulldozers have been fitted with armor by non-government civilian operators to prevent bystanders or police from interfering with the work performed by the bulldozer, as in the case of strikes or demolition of condemned buildings. See Marvin Heemeyer.

See also

Derivative word uses


External links

bulldoze in Bulgarian: Булдозер
bulldoze in German: Planierraupe
bulldoze in Spanish: Topadora
bulldoze in Esperanto: Buldozo
bulldoze in Persian: بولدوزر
bulldoze in French: Bulldozer
bulldoze in Indonesian: Buldoser
bulldoze in Italian: Bulldozer (macchina)
bulldoze in Hebrew: דחפור
bulldoze in Dutch: Bulldozer (machine)
bulldoze in Japanese: ブルドーザー
bulldoze in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bulldosar
bulldoze in Polish: Spycharka
bulldoze in Romanian: Buldozer
bulldoze in Russian: Бульдозер
bulldoze in Finnish: Puskutraktori
bulldoze in Swedish: Bulldozer
bulldoze in Vietnamese: Máy ủi
bulldoze in Turkish: Buldozer
bulldoze in Ukrainian: Бульдозер
bulldoze in Chinese: 推土機

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

assault, be imminent, bear, bear upon, beat down, blackjack, blank, blow down, bludgeon, bluster, bluster out of, boost, bounce, break, break down, bring down, browbeat, buck, bull, bully, bullyrag, bump, bump against, bunt, burn down, butt, butt against, cast down, castrate, chop down, clamp down on, clobber, coerce, comminate, compel, cow, cram, cream, crowd, cut down, daunt, defeat utterly, demoralize, denounce, despotize, dig, domineer, domineer over, dragoon, drive, elbow, enslave, fell, flatten, force, forebode, goad, grind, grind down, harass, harry, hector, henpeck, hijack, huff, hurtle, hustle, intimidate, jab, jam, jog, joggle, jolt, jostle, keep down, keep under, knock down, knock over, level, look threatening, lord it over, lower, menace, mow down, nudge, oppress, overawe, overbear, overmaster, override, overwhelm, paste, pile drive, poke, press, press heavy on, prod, prostrate, pull down, punch, push, ram, ram down, rase, rattle, raze, repress, ride over, ride roughshod over, run, run against, schmear, shake, shanghai, shellac, shoulder, shove, shut out, skunk, smash, smear, snow under, steamroller, stress, strong-arm, subjugate, suppress, systematically terrorize, take down, tamp, tear down, terrorize, threaten, throw down, thrust, trample down, trample upon, tread down, tread upon, tyrannize, tyrannize over, unman, use violence, utter threats against, walk all over, walk over, warn, weigh heavy on, whelm, whitewash, whomp, whop
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