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Blend of Channel (the English Channel) +‎ tunnel; the term had been coined by 1960 (see quotation).


Proper noun[edit]

the Chunnel

  1. (rail transport, informal) Short for Channel Tunnel.
    • 1960 March, “Talking of Trains: London-Paris in four hours”, in Trains Illustrated, page 134:
      Sir Brian Robertson, Chairman of the B.T.C., told a London audience in January that he would not be surprised if a Channel tunnel for rail traffic, equipped with special wagons to carry road vehicles, were recommended by the study group which has been re-assessing the feasibility of the "Chunnel".
      This was prophetic, it actually happened
    • 1969, Vladimir Nabokov, chapter 30, in Ada, or, Ardor: A Family Chronicle, Harmondsworth, London: Penguin Books, published 1970, →ISBN, part 1, page 144:
      Rumors, carefully and cleverly circulated by Mascodagama’s friends, diverted speculations toward his being a mysterious visitor from beyond the Golden Curtain, particularly since at least half-a-dozen members of a large Good-will Circus Company that had come from Tartary just then [] had already defected between France and England, somewhere in the newly constructed ‘Chunnel.’
    • 2003, William Gibson, Pattern Recognition (Bigend cycle; book 1), New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, →ISBN, page 79:
      She knows a café here, a French place. Remembering breakfast there with Damien. [] Here it is: faux-French with real French waiting tables. Chunnel kids, guest workers.