Definition of tarpaulin in English:

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Pronunciation: /tärˈpôlən/


1Heavy-duty waterproof cloth, originally of tarred canvas.
Example sentences
  • The sun was quite low when the train pulled into another yard, and he had covered them with tarpaulin once again.
  • A quantity of drugs were recovered from the house and a high-value car, which was found covered by tarpaulin in the front garden, was removed to be stripped down and examined.
  • The option was of course, to down tools, rush off to the Hyper Value, buy a big piece of tarpaulin and cover the huge open space in our front wall.
1.1A sheet or covering of this.
Example sentences
  • The trucks were dusty and neglected, their tyres rotting and flat and sinking into the ground, but when the two ladies pulled back a tarpaulin, they found that the trucks were full of gems and precious stones and pearls and gold coins.
  • The shelters are basic - little more than wooden frames covered in tarpaulins to keep out the rain.
  • He rode alone before two large waggons, covered over with tarpaulins stretched on tall arches, pulled by double yokes of oxen.
2 historical A sailor’s tarred or oilskin hat.
Example sentences
  • A farmer is not exposed to falling ropes, or spars, or tackle-hence, does not need a stiff tarpaulin, like a sailor or a fireman.
2.1 archaic A sailor.


Early 17th century: probably from tar1 + pall1 + -ing1.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tar·pau·lin

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