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Submitted by on May 18, 2022

A sled, sledge, or sleigh is a type of ground vehicle that glides on ice or snow. It has a smooth underbelly or a separate body, both of which are supported by two or more smooth, relatively narrow longitudinal runners, comparable to skis. This minimizes friction, which aids in the transportation of big weights.

Passengers or freight are transported across relatively level land using certain configurations. Others are made to slide downhill for fun, especially for kids, or for competition. (Compare downhill skiing to cross-country skiing.) Shades of meaning that distinguish the three phrases frequently reflect geographical differences based on previous usage and the current atmosphere.

Sledge is the usual phrase in British English, and it is more prevalent than sled. Toboggan is occasionally used interchangeably with sledge, although it is most commonly used to describe a form of sledge that does not have runners. A sleigh is a medium to large-sized, usually open-topped vehicle that is drawn by horses, dogs, or reindeer to transport passengers or cargo.

In American use, the term sled refers to a smaller equipment that is frequently used for recreational purposes. Sledge refers to a larger sled that is used to transport freight or large goods. Sleigh refers to a vehicle that is essentially a cold-season alternative to a carriage or wagon and has seating for passengers; in North America, what is known as a dog-sleigh in Britain is known only as a dog-sled.

The term sled derives from the Middle English word sledde, which comes from the Middle Dutch word slde, which means’sliding’ or’slider.’ Both the words sleigh and sledge have the same ancestor. The term sleigh, on the other hand, is an anglicized version of the current Dutch word slee that was brought to North America by Dutch immigrants.

Operation

Sleds are very handy in the winter, but they may also be dragged through wet fields, muddy roads, and even firm terrain if the blades are greased with oil or wetted with water. See the appropriate parts in the articles on ice and ice skating for an explanation of why sleds and other items glide with varied degrees of friction ranging from very little to reasonably little friction on ice, icy snow, wet snow, and dry snow. The classic theory of sleds creating a thin film of water on the snow or ice, allowing them to travel on ice with minimum friction, is inaccurate.

Sledges are thought to have been widely used by Ancient Egyptians in the construction of public works, particularly for transporting heavy obelisks over sand.

Sleds and sledges were discovered during the excavation of the Oseberg “Viking” ship. The sledge was also prized because it was exempt from tolls, unlike wheeled vehicles.

closed winter sled, or vozok, offered a high-speed mode of transportation over the snow-covered plains of European Russia and Siberia until the late 19th century. Royals, bishops, and boyars of Muscovy favoured it as a mode of transportation. Several historically significant royal vozoks have been preserved at the Kremlin Armoury.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, man-hauled sledges were the customary mode of travel for British exploration trips to the Arctic and Antarctic areas, championed by Captain Scott, for example. Most others, like Roald Amundsen, relied on dog sleds.

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