Presidential motorcade transporting then-U.S. President George W. Bush in North Carolina, July 2005

A motorcade (convoy, carcade, autocade) is a procession of vehicles. The term motorcade was coined by Lyle Abbot (in 1912 or 1913 when he was automobile editor of the Arizona Republican), and is formed after cavalcade on the false notion that "-cade" was a suffix meaning "procession". In fact, there is no such suffix in either French or Latin, although -cade has now since become a productive suffix in English, leading to the alternative names carcade, autocade, and even Hoovercade (after J. Edgar Hoover). Eric Partridge called the name a "monstrosity", and Lancelot Hogben considered the word to be a "counterfeit coinage". The original suffix in cavalcade is actually "-ade".[1][2][3]


Uses of motorcades


A funeral cortege is a procession of mourners, most often in a motorcade of vehicles following a hearse.[4]

Protests and demonstrations

Motorcades can be used as protests and demonstrations.[5] A large, organised, group of vehicles will travel a busy route at very slow speed in order to deliberately cause traffic disruption. This is a tactic most often associated with protest groups that have access to many large vehicles, such as truckers and farmers. An example is the 2005 UK protests against fuel prices.[6]


Motorcades can be used to transport a very important person, usually a political figure. Such a procession consists of several vehicles, usually accompanied by law enforcement support and additional protection to ensure the safety of the people in the motorcade. Motorcades for presidents and heads of state consist of anywhere from four to six armoured cars or SUVs, with police motorcycles and cars leading the way and following.

Traffic diversions

Depending on the size of the motorcade and who it is carrying, routes may be completely blockaded from the general public. For security, this is common with motorcades for heads of state or government.

President of the United States

The motorcade for the President of the United States comprises twenty to thirty vehicles; in addition to the president, the motorcade may carry his spouse, members of the press, security, White House officials, and VIP guests. The major members travel in armored vehicles, typically specially configured limousines. The motorcade contains several armored vehicles, a USSS Electronic Countermeasures Suburban, a counter-assault team, and Secret Service agents. When called for, a hazardous materials team precedes the motorcade on alert for potential hazards.

A police presence precedes the beginning of the presidential motorcade. These cars and motorcycles usually drive ahead to clear the way and block traffic.[7]

The motorcade for the president is made up of two parts, the first being the "secure package".[8] In the event of an emergency, the secure package separates from the rest of the group.[8] It includes two limousines, is heavily guarded by local law enforcement and Secret Service, with all cars driven by professional drivers.[8]

The second part is made up of vans that transport White House staff members and selected members of the press. In the rear is the WHCA Roadrunner communications van – which provides the primary communications path via satellite, allowing bi-directional voice, data and streaming video – an ambulance, and additional police vehicles.[8]

Motorcade routes are selected by Secret Service agents in cooperation with local police forces. Escape routes are also established in the event of an emergency.[8]


  1. ^ Valerie Adams (1973). Introduction to Modern English Word-formation. Longman. pp. 188–189. 
  2. ^ John Ayto (2006). "motorcade". Movers and Shakers. Oxford University Press US. pp. 45. ISBN 0198614527. 
  3. ^ Henry Louis Mencken, Raven Ioor McDavid, and David A. Maurer (1963). American Language: An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States. Knopf. pp. 222. 
  4. ^ Gove, Philip B (1984). Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms. Merriam-Webster. p. 640. 
  5. ^ Doug Bound (1994). "Nonviolent Direct Action and the Diffusion of Power". In Paul Ernest Wehr, Paul Wehr, Heidi Burgess, Guy M. Burgess. Justice Without Violence. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN 1555874657. 
  6. ^ Morris, Steven (2005-09-17). "Fuel protesters defy police as convoy crawl jams motorway". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media).,,1572106,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  7. ^ Beam, Christopher (November 29, 2006). "What's in a presidential motorcade?". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Selingo, Jefferey (September 26, 2003). "Driving; Fed Up With Traffic? Get Behind the Wheel in a Motorcade". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • motorcade — n. a procession of people traveling in motor cars. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • motorcade — (n.) 1909, from MOTOR (Cf. motor ) + suffix from CAVALCADE (Cf. cavalcade) …   Etymology dictionary

  • motorcade — *procession, parade, cortege, cavalcade …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • motorcade — [n] procession of motor vehicles caravan, convoy, parade; concepts 432,503 …   New thesaurus

  • motorcade — ► NOUN ▪ a procession of motor vehicles. ORIGIN from MOTOR(Cf. ↑motor), on the pattern of cavalcade …   English terms dictionary

  • motorcade — ☆ motorcade [mōt′ərkād΄ ] n. [ MOTOR + CADE] a procession of automobiles or other motor vehicles, specif., as an escort for an important person …   English World dictionary

  • motorcade — [[t]mo͟ʊtə(r)keɪd[/t]] motorcades N COUNT A motorcade is a line of slow moving cars carrying important people, usually as part of a public ceremony. At times the president s motorcade slowed to a crawl …   English dictionary

  • motorcade — UK [ˈməʊtə(r)ˌkeɪd] / US [ˈmoʊtərˌkeɪd] noun [countable] Word forms motorcade : singular motorcade plural motorcades a group of cars travelling with someone very important …   English dictionary

  • motorcade — noun Date: 1913 a procession of motor vehicles • motorcade intransitive verb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • motorcade — /moh teuhr kayd /, n., v., motorcaded, motorcading. n. 1. a procession or parade of automobiles or other motor vehicles. v.i. 2. to travel by or in a motorcade. [1910 15; MOTOR + CADE] * * * …   Universalium

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