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in aviation: see airplaneairplane,
or aircraft,
heavier-than-air vehicle, mechanically driven and fitted with fixed wings that support it in flight through the dynamic action of the air.
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in machinery, device for transporting people or goods from one level to another. The term is applied to the enclosed structures as well as the open platforms used to provide vertical transportation in buildings, large ships, and mines; it is also applied to devices consisting of a continuous belt or chain with attached buckets for handling bulk materials.

Simple hoists were used from ancient times. From about the middle of the 19th cent., power elevators, often steam-operated, were used for conveying materials in factories, mines, and warehouses. In 1853 the American inventor Elisha G. OtisOtis, Elisha Graves,
1811–61, American inventor, b. Halifax, Vt. From his invention (1852) of an automatic safety device to prevent the fall of hoisting machinery he developed the first passenger elevator (1857).
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 demonstrated a freight elevator equipped with a safety device to prevent falling in case a supporting cable should break. This increased public confidence in such devices and served as an impetus to the industry. Otis established a company for manufacturing elevators and patented (1861) a steam elevator.

After the introduction by Sir William Armstrong of the hydraulic crane (1846), the hydraulic principle was applied to the elevator, and in the early 1870s hydraulic machines began to replace the steam-powered elevator. The hydraulic elevator is supported by a heavy piston, moving in a cylinder and operated by the water (or oil) pressure produced by pumps. As improvement of design made increased speed of movement possible, various safety devices, such as speed governors, were developed. Toward the end of the 19th cent., electric elevators came into use, and operation by electric motor gradually became the chief method. Later improved safety devices were added, and automatic and partly automatic elevators were introduced. Increase in speed of operation and improvement in general design and materials also characterize the more modern elevators.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/


A platform or enclosure that can be raised or lowered in a vertical shaft that transports people or freight. The hoisting or lowering mechanism which serves two or more floors, that is equipped with a cab or platform which moves in vertical guiderails for stability. Vintage elevators had exposed mechanisms, which are being used in buildings with a high-tech appearance.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a stationary hoist, usually of the intermittent-operation type, for vertical motion of a car or platform along rigid guide rails mounted in a shaft.

Prototypes of elevators existed in ancient Rome as early as the first century B.C. Elevators were mentioned in sources that date to the sixth century A.D. (Egypt), the 13th century (France), and the 17th century (England and France). The first passenger elevators in Russia were built in the mid-18th century (Tsarskoe Selo and the estate of Kuskovo). In 1793 a passenger elevator with a worm drive, designed by I. P. Kulibin, was installed in the Winter Palace. Elevators with steam, hydraulic, and later electric drive appeared in the mid-19th century in connection with the development of high-rise construction (for example, in 1852 an elevator was built in the USA). The hoisting mechanisms of these elevators were winches, hydraulic cylinders with plungers, and load-carrying worm gears. In 1880, L. Siemens in Germany constructed the first electrically driven elevator with a rack-and-pinion drive mechanism. By the beginning of the 20th century, systems with an electric drive and cable traction were widely used. A distinction is made between freight elevators (general-purpose or special types, such as warehouse and sidewalk elevators) and passenger elevators (standard or high-speed; see Table 1).

Table 1. Main technical characteristics of Soviet elevators
 Load capacity (kg)Rated speed (m/sec)Height of rise (m)
Passenger . . .320–1,6000.7–4.045–150
 (4–20 people)  

In some elevator designs the speed of travel is as high as 7 m/sec, with a load capacity of up to 260 persons—for example, in the elevator in the television tower of the Moscow television center at Ostankino.

The main requirements of elevators are safety, reliability, smoothness of acceleration, motion, and braking, and precision in stopping. Elevator operation should not cause high noise levels or interfere with television and radio reception.

A diagram of a passenger elevator is shown in Figure 1. The car is suspended on cables and moves in a shaft that passes through all floors of a building. The hoisting mechanism is a winch, mounted in the upper or lower part of the building. The

Figure 1. Diagram of a passenger elevator: (1) engine room, (2) winch, (3) traveling cables, (4) suspension, (5) catchers, (6) car, (7) shifter, (8) shoe, (9) shaft, (10) guide rails for car, (11) guide rails for counterweight, (12) counterweight, (13) buffer, (14) bottom pit, (15) tension pulley, (16) speed limiter cable, (17) speed limiter, (18) magnetic station

vertical position of the car is maintained by sliding or rolling shoes, which move along guide rails fastened to the walls of the shaft. For safety reasons, the car and counterweights are suspended from at least two parallel cables. Uniform tension of cables is achieved by the use of spring or balancing suspensions.

Elevator mechanisms have various functional diagrams, depending on their purpose, the height of rise, the location of winches, and the layout and construction of the building (Figure 2). The main groups of elevators are those with direct suspension of the car and counterweight, those with pulley-block suspension of the car and counterweight, and looped-cable elevators with pulley-block suspension of the car.

Figure 2. Functional diagrams of elevator mechanisms: (a) and (b) with winch located at bottom of shaft, (c) and (d) with winch located at top of shaft, (e) and (f) with winch located at top of shaft and with a counterweight, (g) with winch located at bottom of shaft and with a counterweight, (h) and (i) with winch located at top of shaft and with a cable-guiding sheave and counterpulley, (j) with looped cable, (k) with pulley-block suspension of car and counterweight

Safe operation of elevators is ensured by such devices as car catchers and speed limiters, which stop the car if the normal speed is exceeded by 15 percent or more or if a cable breaks or is weakened. Wedge-type catchers are a widely used design. Upon operation of the actuating mechanism the wedges are raised and press against the guide rails; if the car descends still further, self-tightening of wedges occurs and the car is stopped. The catcher is connected to a speed limiter, whose centrifugal locking device brakes the sheave and the cable as soon as the car reaches the speed limit. Upon subsequent motion of the car, the catchers are actuated by a system of rods.

The main type of drive for elevators in large-scale use is the AC electric type. The most common system has a two-speed asynchronous electric motor with a cage rotor, which makes possible a significant reduction in speed and ensures precise stopping of the car. Miniature drives are used for precise stopping of freight elevators with a single guide rail. Special AC or DC electric drives are used for elevators with speeds exceeding 1 m/sec; such drives have a wide range of speed control, with constant acceleration.

The control of an electric elevator drive (start, acceleration, deceleration, stop, and change in the direction of motion) is provided by starting and control apparatus. Safety of operation is provided by automatic electric and mechanical protective and interlocking devices. If necessary, elevators may be equipped with automatic doors, optical signals, and two-way communication between the car and the starter’s desk, which serves several elevators simultaneously. The regulation of an elevator may be internal (from within the car), external (from the loading area), or mixed, depending on the location of the control apparatus. Collective control, which makes possible registration of commands from the cars, as well as calls from individual floors and their subsequent answer following the floor sequence during an up or down trip of the cabin, is often used.

In high-rise buildings the efficiency of use of an elevator is increased if passengers are first brought to a given level on nonstop high-speed elevators and then to higher floors by an ordinary elevator.

Public and administrative buildings with large passenger traffic are equipped with dual or group elevator control systems (for three to six elevators). Such systems are intended for organizing automatic, combined operation of elevators to achieve maximum throughput and minimum waiting time. Operating schedules for morning, day, and evening may be set by the starter or programmed automatically as a function of the intensity and direction of traffic.

Standard designs of normal and high-speed passenger and freight elevators are used for serving blast furnaces, petroleum refineries, and television towers. The main parameters of the elevators and the dimensions of cars, shafts, machine rooms, and winch rooms are regulated by GOST (the All-Union State Standard), data from which are used to coordinate the mechanical and structural parts of the installations and to develop series of standardized passenger and freight elevators that are suitable for any building structure.


Pavlov, N. G. Lifty i pod”emniki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Brodskii, M. G., I. M. Vishnevetskii, and Iu. V. Greiman. Remont, modernizatsiia i ekspluatatsiia liftov, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Elektrooborudovanie liftov: Katalog-spravochnik, issues 1–2. Moscow, 1968–69.
Montazh i ekspluatatsiia liftov. Moscow, 1969.




(Russian, elevator), a continuous-operation machine used to transport loads vertically or on an incline.

Bucket, tray, and cradle-type elevators are distinguished. Bucket elevators are designed to lift pulverized, granular, or lumpy bulk materials vertically or at angles greater than 60°. Tray elevators and cradle-type elevators are used for lifting unit loads such as parts, bags, and boxes and may be loaded and unloaded intermittently. Bucket elevators are employed in metallurgy, machine

Figure 1. Vertical continuous bucket elevator: (1) belt, (2) bucket, (3) drive pulley, (4) backstop, (5) drive, (6) discharge spout, (7) takeup shaft, (8) loading spout

Figure 2. Vertical two-chain elevators for lifting unit loads: (a) tray elevator, (b) cradle-type elevator

building, and chemical and food production, as well as at ore-enrichment plants and granaries. Tray elevators and cradle-type elevators are used at enterprises of various branches of industry, at supply depots, and in stores. They are also found in warehouses in the form of mobile shelving on which products are stored and made available.

A bucket elevator (Figure 1) consists of an endless belt that passes around drive and tension pulleys (or sprockets) and on which buckets are mounted. The supporting and enclosing structure of the elevator may be a welded steel casing with a loading spout and a discharge spout. The elevator’s drive comprises an electric motor, a reducing gear, clutches, and a backstop that prevents reversal of the belt. A screw takeup or a gravity takeup may be used in the elevator.

The belt of a low-speed bucket elevator runs at speeds of up to 1 m/sec, whereas that of a high-speed elevator runs at up to 4 m/-sec. Capacities of bucket elevators range from 5 m3/hr to 500 m3/hr, and the height of lift H rarely exceeds 60 m. The basic parameters of such elevators (see Figure 1) include the bucket’s width Bb, height h, overhang A, and effective capacity (as measured to the rim of the front wall); also included is the spacing ab between buckets. High-speed elevators have alternating deep and shallow buckets that are spaced in such a way that ab = (2.5–3)h; the buckets are mounted on a rubberized conveyor belt or on a short-link chain. Slow-speed elevators use closely spaced (ab = h), acute-angled buckets with rounded bottoms. The buckets have side guides and are attached between two chains.

A tray elevator (Figure 2,a) has two vertical pintle chains that are equipped with bushings and that turn around a drive sprocket at the head terminal and a tension sprocket at the foot terminal. Fork trays that conform to the size and shape of the load are rigidly attached to the chains. The trays are loaded either automatically from a table with baffles or manually and are unloaded when they are tipped at the upper end of the descending run. The chains operate at a speed of 0.2–0.3 m/sec.

A cradle-type elevator (Figure 2,b) differs from a tray elevator in the method by which the transporting unit is attached. Pivot-ally mounted, the cradle remains horizontal throughout the entire run. The cradles are loaded during the ascending run and unloaded during the descending run. Cradle-type elevators operate at speeds of 0.2–0.3 m/sec.


Spivakovskii, A. O., and V. K. D’iachkov. Transportiruiushchie mashiny, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Mashiny nepreryvnogo transporta. Edited by V. I. Plavinskii. Moscow, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about an elevator?

Because they travel up and down in space, elevators participate in the larger meaning of height and depth. Thus, an ascending elevator in a dream can mean almost anything from rising in status to rising in awareness, whereas one descending may mean lowered status or submerging into the depths of the unconscious. In and of themselves, elevators are often regarded as threatening, because on elevators we are often forced into close quarters with strangers and because they sometimes plummet down the elevator shaft, killing the passengers.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(aerospace engineering)
The hinged rear portion of the longitudinal stabilizing surface or tail plane of an aircraft, used to obtain longitudinal or pitch-control moments.
(mechanical engineering)
Also known as elevating machine.
Vertical, continuous-belt, or chain device with closely spaced buckets, scoops, arms, or trays to lift or elevate powders, granules, or solid objects to a higher level.
Pneumatic device in which air or gas is used to elevate finely powdered materials through a closed conduit.
An enclosed platform or car that moves up and down in a shaft for transporting people or materials. Also known as lift.
(petroleum engineering)
A clamp gripping a stand or column of casing tubing, drill pipe, or sucker rods so that it can be moved up or down in a borehole being drilled.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A hoisting and lowering mechanism equipped with a car or platform which moves in guides in a vertical direction, and which serves two or more floors of a building or structure; also see dumbwaiter. Also see freight elevator, hand elevator, hydraulic elevator, passenger elevator, power elevator, sidewalk elevator.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A primary, horizontal, movable control surface on the tail of an airplane. It produces a pitching movement of the airplane about the lateral axis. When the control column is moved back, the elevators, which are hinged to the rear spar of the tailplane, move up; if the control column is moved forward, the elevators move down. The lift produced in this process initiates a pitching movement, which moves the aircraft nose up or down, depending on whether the movement of the control column is backward or forward, respectively. See also control surface.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


1. Chiefly US a mechanical hoist for raising something, esp grain or coal, often consisting of a chain of scoops linked together on a conveyor belt
2. chiefly US and Canadian a platform, compartment, or cage raised or lowered in a vertical shaft to transport persons or goods in a building
3. any muscle that raises a part of the body
4. a surgical instrument for lifting a part of the body
5. a control surface on the tailplane of an aircraft, for making it climb or descend
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

scroll bar

A vertical bar on the right side of a window or a horizontal bar at the bottom of a window that is used to move the window contents up and down or left and right. The bar contains a "thumb", which looks like an elevator in a shaft. When dragged with the mouse, the window contents move correspondingly. When the bar is clicked above or below the thumb, the contents are moved a page at a time. The arrows are clicked to move one line at a time.

Becoming Somewhat Obsolete
Since the advent of scroll mice, which use a wheel for vertical and horizontal scrolling, the scroll bar is being used less and less on desktop applications. In addition, tablet and smartphone content is scrolled by fingers, and a scroll bar was never a natural part of the interface. See scroll mouse.

Scroll Bars
Clicking in the bar or dragging the thumb moves the contents within the window. The Mac example (right) shows an optional variation that places both scroll arrows in the same vicinity to lessen mouse movement when switching directions.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.


Going up and down in the elevator may symbolize going from one state of consciousness to another. Messages from the unconscious may be accessible. Some believe that the elevator may be a symbol of a boring and mechanical sex life. On a more pragmatic note, the elevator may simply represent the “ups and downs” of life. If you are ascending, then you may perceive your current situation as optimistic and moving upward. If you are descending, you may be experiencing some negativity and helplessness.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.