Definition of tumbril in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtəmbrəl/
(also tumbrel)


1An open cart that tilted backward to empty out its load, in particular one used to convey condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution.
Example sentences
  • As the dawn broke over Paris the sound of the tumbrel wheels awoke the prisoners from their fitful sleep and they were soon loaded like animals to go on their last journey.
  • Here come the tumbrils, inching their way slowly through the rotting cabbages and vulgar ribaldry of Republican isolationists.
  • Connected to the terrible lucidity of the condemned man in the tumbril is the unearthly lucidity of the pre-epileptic aura, bliss without time or space, eternity in an instant.
1.1A two-wheeled covered cart that carried tools or ammunition for an army.
Example sentences
  • While terrified soldiers sought refuge inside the ministry, a tumbril was found.


Middle English (originally denoting a type of cucking stool): from Old French tomberel, from tomber 'to fall'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tum·bril

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