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 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, "Best Tarps: How to Choose the Right Tarp for Camping, Survival, and More," 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, "Among the Insurrectionists," 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, "For Indian teen who launched village library, it’s about more than books," 8 Jan. 2021 Guards found the thieves drunk and hiding under a tarpaulin, according to the Art Newspaper. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Two Men Arrested After Trying to Steal Stones From Notre-Dame," 24 Mar. 2020 It’s made from Cotec EPO, which is a tarpaulin material that’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-free. Adrienne So, Wired, "I Bought the Duffel Bag That's in The Expanse—and Love It," 2 Aug. 2020 But the groups are preparing emergency supplies of food, tarpaulins and water purification tablets. Joanna Slater, Anchorage Daily News, "India and Bangladesh prepare for monster cyclone as pandemic rages," 19 May 2020 Pessimistic Indian Doctors Brace for Tsunami of Virus Cases In Dharavi, which sleeps thousands of daily wagers and hosts businesses run from huts with a tarpaulin roof -- at times without government permissions -- tensions and mistrust are rising. Dhwani Pandya, Bloomberg.com, "Mumbai Races to Keep the Virus From Asia’s Most Crowded Slum," 24 Mar. 2020 Tents, tarpaulins, food stalls and solar panels to charge mobile phones are laid out among rows of men bent in prayer. The Economist, "Religious protesters have put Pakistan’s government on the defensive," 7 Nov. 2019

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.

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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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Statistics for tarpaulin

Last Updated

8 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tarpaulin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tarpaulin. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of tarpaulin

: a large piece of waterproof material (such as plastic or canvas) that is used to cover things and keep them dry


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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