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From tar + pall (heavy canvas) + -ing.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /tɑˈpɔː.lɪn/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈtɑːɹpəlɪn/, /tɑɹˈpɔ.lɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔːlɪn


tarpaulin (countable and uncountable, plural tarpaulins)

  1. (countable) A tarp, a heavy, waterproof sheet of material, often cloth, used as a cover or blanket.
    Throw a tarpaulin over that woodpile before it gets wet.
  2. (countable, slang, archaic) A sailor.
    Synonym: tar
  3. (uncountable, obsolete) Any heavy, waterproof material used as a cover.
  4. (uncountable, nautical, obsolete) Canvas waterproofed with tar, used as a cover.
  5. A hat made of, or covered with, painted or tarred cloth, worn by sailors and others.


tarpaulin (third-person singular simple present tarpaulins, present participle tarpaulining, simple past and past participle tarpaulined)

  1. To cover with a tarpaulin.
    • 1929, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, When the World Screamed[1]:
      "Cover it up! Don't touch it!" said the Professor. So we tarpaulined it according to his instructions, and there it lies.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In the US, tarp has been more common than tarpaulin in print since about 1990.[1] In speech since at least 1970.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

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