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Shortening of tarmacadam, which is tar + macadam (crushed stones).


tarmac (plural tarmacs)

  1. (UK, Canada) The bituminous surface of a road.
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, chapter 3/1/1, “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days[1]:
      How meek and shrunken did that haughty Tarmac become as it slunk by the wide circle of asphalt of the yellow sort, that was loosely strewn before the great iron gates of Lady Hall as a forerunner of the consideration that awaited the guests of Rupert, Earl of Kare, [] .
  2. (aviation) Area of an airport where planes park or maneuver.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The tarmac are any areas of an airfield that are paved. It is often used to describe planes that are sitting still on a paved road surface due to some sort of delay.


See also[edit]


tarmac (third-person singular simple present tarmacs, present participle tarmacking, simple past and past participle tarmacked)

  1. (UK, Canada) To pave
    • 2008, Valerie Belsey, Exploring Green Lanes in North and North-West Devon[2], ISBN 1900322218, page 108:
      To your left is a green lane, partly tarmacked with chippings, which leads up to a little car-parking area.
  2. (aviation) To spend time idling on a runway, usually waiting for takeoff clearance
    • 1989, Donald F. Wood & James C. Johnson, Contemporary Transportation[3], ISBN 0024294802, page 213:
      "It is not unusual these days for the time spent tarmacking to exceed the time spent in the air, " said Senator John Danforth, R-Mo.

Alternative forms[edit]




From English tarmac.


tarmac m

  1. tarmac



Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
tarmac tharmac dtarmac
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.