• A cable railroad, especially one on a mountainside, in which ascending and descending cars are counterbalanced.


  • (Of a railroad, especially one on a mountainside) Operating by cable with ascending and descending cars counterbalanced. 
  • Relating to a rope or its tension.

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Example Sentences

“The funicular pulley system in the barn let him hoist the large bales of hay by himself.”

“I don’t know how to ski, but I still enjoy taking the funicular tram to the top of the mountain.”

“When I built a small hill for my model train landscape, I also added a funicular to my models.”

Word Origin

Latin, mid-17th century

Why this word?

“Funicular” comes from the Latin “funiculus,” which means “rope.” The adjective can be applied to any description of a rope and its tension, but it’s most commonly used to describe a specific type of mountainside railway operated by cables. “Funicular” can also be used as a noun to name such a railroad. The first public funicular railway was the Funiculaires de Lyon, which opened in France in 1862, and the first in the United States was the Telegraph Hill Railroad, which was in operation in San Francisco from 1884 through 1886.

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