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A tractor is a vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort (or torque) at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction. Most commonly, the term is used to describe the distinctive farm vehicle: agricultural implements may be towed behind or mounted on the tractor, and the tractor may also provide a source of power if the implement is mechanised. Another common use of the term, "tractor unit", describes the power unit of a semi-trailer truck (articulated lorry).
The word tractor was taken from Latin, being the agent noun of trahere "to pull". The first recorded use of the word meaning "an engine or vehicle for pulling wagons or ploughs" occurred in 1901, displacing the earlier term traction engine (1859).
In Britain, Ireland, Australia, India, Spain, Argentina and Germany the word "tractor" usually means "farm tractor", and the use of the word "tractor" to mean other types of vehicles is familiar to the vehicle trade but unfamiliar to much of the general public. In Canada and the US the word may also refer to the road tractor portion of a tractor trailer truck.
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