tar·​pau·​lin | \ tär-ˈpȯ-lən How to pronounce tarpaulin (audio) , ˈtär-pə-; nonstandard tär-ˈpōl-yən \
plural tarpaulins

Definition of tarpaulin

1 : a piece of material used especially for protecting exposed objects or areas : tarp The hatchways of some armed vessels are but poorly secured in bad weather. … They were merely spread over with an old tarpaulin, cracked and rent in every direction.— Herman Melville
2 dated : sailor "What does this here blessed tarpaulin go and do," said Mr. Peggotty, with his face one high noon of enjoyment, "but he loses that there art of his to our little Em'ly."— Charles Dickens The Englishman replied, like a rough tarpaulin, "They might starve; they should not plant nor build in that place."— Daniel Defoe

Examples of tarpaulin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Down in Kultorvet, meanwhile, the owner of Peter’s Polser was carefully placing a tarpaulin over his wagon’s motor. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2022 For now, the only thing on the site apart from the ruins of an old cottage is a small sign planted out in the bog, covered in a flapping blue tarpaulin, waiting to be unveiled. James Hookway, WSJ, 22 Jan. 2022 At night in the refugee camps, with only a thin tarpaulin wall as protection, Mohammed waits for the men to come and kill him. New York Times, 14 Nov. 2021 Its large and well-protected interior can hold enough gear for a weekend of activity and keep everything protected thanks to its weather-resistant tarpaulin exterior. Ramsey Qubein, Forbes, 7 Nov. 2021 This is made from heavy tarpaulin and fabric-guarded, coated zippers for 100% waterproof protection. Chris Hachey, BGR, 11 June 2021 For those who enjoy the outdoors in rainy or damp environments, consider putting waterproof qualities ahead of all other factors when shopping for a tarpaulin. Field & Stream, 22 Feb. 2021 In anticipation of Biden’s Inauguration, bleachers had been erected there, and the sides of the scaffolding were wrapped in ripstop tarpaulin. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, 15 Jan. 2021 Walls were repainted, the bamboo roof was repaired and fastened to a crimson tarpaulin, lights and a bookshelf were installed, and the room was filled with plastic chairs and a table. Radhika Iyengar, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Jan. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tarpaulin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tarpaulin

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tarpaulin

probably from tar entry 1 + -palling, -pauling (from pall)

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Time Traveler for tarpaulin

Time Traveler

The first known use of tarpaulin was in 1607

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Dictionary Entries Near tarpaulin

tar paper


tarpaulin muster

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Statistics for tarpaulin

Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tarpaulin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tarpaulin. Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for tarpaulin


tar·​pau·​lin | \ tär-ˈpȯ-lən How to pronounce tarpaulin (audio) , ˈtär-pə-lən \

Kids Definition of tarpaulin

: a sheet of waterproof canvas

More from Merriam-Webster on tarpaulin

Nglish: Translation of tarpaulin for Spanish Speakers


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