ton·​nage | \ ˈtə-nij How to pronounce tonnage (audio) \

Definition of tonnage

1a : the cubical content of a merchant ship in units of 100 cubic feet
b : the displacement of a warship
2a : total weight in tons shipped, carried, or produced
b : impressively large amount or weight
3 : a duty formerly levied on every tun of wine imported into England
4a : a duty or impost on vessels based on cargo capacity
b : a duty on goods per ton transported
5 : ships in terms of the total number of tons registered or carried or of their carrying capacity

Examples of tonnage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Less-than-truckload competitor Saia, based in Johns Creek, Ga., said its daily tonnage rose 0.5% from the previous year. Jennifer Smith, WSJ, "Truckers Are Seeing Growing Freight Volumes," 3 Sep. 2020 Despite all this, however, the Chinese fleet is still smaller than the U.S. Navy in one key metric: overall tonnage. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Yes, China’s Navy Is the Largest in the World—but There’s a Catch," 3 Sep. 2020 Using the same tonnage, year two of the deal would cost the city $113,784; year three, $117,208; and year four, $122,096. cleveland, "Despite higher costs, Pepper Pike will pay to continue recycling," 23 Aug. 2020 Taconite shipments, which comprise the majority of the port's tonnage, reached 7.2 million tons in July, down 20% from last year but up slightly month over month. Brooks Johnson, Star Tribune, "As Duluth port cargos lag, 'lost time can't be made up'," 20 Aug. 2020 But commercial trash has decreased about 20% since January due to the closure of offices and other spaces, causing the overall tonnage of waste collected by Recology to fall. Anna Kramer,, "Eco-conscious Bay Area reckons with flood of plastic waste as coronavirus wears on," 10 July 2020 The tonnage that chicory provides allows a small plot to feed more deer than a pure clover plot of the same size. Will Brantley, Field & Stream, "How 3 Top Whitetail Outfitters Grow Killer Food Plots," 18 June 2020 And a clause in the contract required the city deliver a certain tonnage of waste or pay a penalty. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "As testing ramps up, Indianapolis incinerator proves safe place to dispose of pandemic waste," 28 May 2020 Geely can tap British expertise in aerodynamics and building light vehicles, important for keeping down the tonnage of electric cars with hefty batteries. The Economist, "Carmaking Lotus benefits from its Chinese connection," 28 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tonnage.' 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 tonnage

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for tonnage

in sense 3, from Middle English, from Anglo-French, from tonne tun; in other senses, from ton entry 1 — more at tunnel

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Time Traveler for tonnage

Time Traveler

The first known use of tonnage was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tonnage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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How to pronounce tonnage (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tonnage

: the size of a ship or the total weight that it carries in tons
: the total weight or amount of something in tons


ton·​nage | \ ˈtə-nij How to pronounce tonnage (audio) \

Kids Definition of tonnage

1 : ships in terms of the total number of tons that are or can be carried
2 : total weight in tons shipped, carried, or mined

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