tunnel

noun
tun·​nel | \ ˈtə-nᵊl How to pronounce tunnel (audio) \

Definition of tunnel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a covered passageway specifically : a horizontal passageway through or under an obstruction
b : a subterranean gallery (as in a mine)
c : burrow
2 : a hollow conduit or recess : tube, well

tunnel

verb
tunneled or tunnelled; tunneling or tunnelling\ ˈtən-​liŋ How to pronounce tunnelling (audio) , ˈtə-​nᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of tunnel (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to make or use a tunnel
2 physics : to pass through a potential barrier electrons tunneling through an insulator between semiconductors

transitive verb

: to make a tunnel or similar opening through or under also : to make (one's way) by or as if by making a tunnel

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tunnel

Noun

tunnellike \ ˈtə-​nᵊl-​ˌ(l)īk How to pronounce tunnellike (audio) \ adjective

Verb

tunneler \ ˈtən-​lər How to pronounce tunneler (audio) , ˈtə-​nᵊl-​ər \ noun

Examples of tunnel in a Sentence

Noun

The train goes through a tunnel in the mountain. The moles dug tunnels in the yard.

Verb

Workers are tunneling through the hill. Insects had tunneled into the tree.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Is there any thought to increasing the lighting in the old tunnels? Gary Richards, The Mercury News, "New magnetic FasTrak stickers being tried in Southern California: Roadshow," 28 Aug. 2019 This story of her years hiding in the tunnels beneath the spa’s gardens will bring tears to even the most Botoxed eye. Wendi Aarons Kj Dell’antonia, The New Yorker, "Girl, You’re a Middle-Aged Woman Now," 21 Aug. 2019 The 37-year-old has evolved from wearing baggy clothes and ill-fitting suits to becoming a trendsetter with his pre-game looks in the arena tunnels. Jamie Lisanti, SI.com, "Fashionable 50," 18 July 2019 In Season 2, Hopper discovered vines growing in tunnels underneath Hawkins, and found that fire was their Kryptonite. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Stranger Things 3 Features the Show's Worst Monster Yet," 4 July 2019 Khafra worked in the tunnels for days at a time, eating and sleeping in there. Michael Kunzelman, Fortune, "Wealthy Stock Trader Convicted of Murder Won't Get New Trial," 13 June 2019 Even Thursday, there were ads in subway tunnels for the men’s team’s upcoming European qualifiers and scant evidence the women are playing in the World Cup. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Is too much being asked for France as it hosts World Cup?," 31 May 2019 The investigations and recovery work are further impeded by the fact that these deaths often happen in tunnels between stations. Kate King, WSJ, "Man Dies While Walking Between New York City Subway Cars," 30 Dec. 2018 Deadline reports that members of the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers, and Miami Dolphins also protested this week, with some players standing in the tunnels during the anthem as others raised fists or knelt on the field. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Trump has repeatedly attacked the NFL. That hasn’t stopped players from protesting.," 20 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Anyone can, as A.B. did, crawl through the passageways surrounding the towering niches in the cliff, through winding staircases tunneled into the sandstone and up steps with risers double the height of modern ones, as if built for giants. New York Times, "2 Giant Buddhas Survived 1,500 Years. Fragments, Graffiti and a Hologram Remain.," 18 June 2019 Instead of directly absorbing energy, electrons can also tunnel through barriers to get to the conduction band. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Wireless nanowire lasers absorb infrared, emit blue light," 1 June 2019 Yet the magazine’s final moment of thumb-in-the-eye relevance—this May, when Donald Trump compared Pete Buttigieg to Alfred E. Neuman—emphasized just how deeply Mad has tunnelled its way into the culture, waiting to inspire anew. Jordan Orlando, The New Yorker, "A World Without Mad Magazine," 25 July 2019 But the challenge of tunneling through these barriers increases as the roadblocks get taller, making it so that fewer particles can break through. Rachel Crowell, Scientific American, "Quirky Quantum Tunneling Observed," 9 July 2019 Carpenter ants build their nests by tunneling in wet and rotting wood, and generally do not go into healthy wood. Tim Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Carpenter ants build nests in wet, rotting wood," 3 July 2019 There and in bouncing-droplet labs that soon sprang up at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere, droplets were seen to tunnel through barriers and perform other acts previously thought to be uniquely quantum. Quanta Magazine, "Famous Experiment Dooms Alternative to Quantum Weirdness," 11 Oct. 2018 El Chapo’’ Guzman has been sentenced to life behind bars in a U.S. prison, a humbling end for a drug lord notorious for his ability to kill, bribe or tunnel his way out of trouble. Tom Hays, BostonGlobe.com, "Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison," 17 July 2019 If the setup is just right — and if the universe cooperates — some of those particles will transform into mirror-image versions of themselves, allowing them to tunnel right through the wall. NBC News, "Scientists are searching for a mirror universe. It could be sitting right in front of you.," 30 June 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of tunnel

Noun

1508, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1795, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for tunnel

Noun

Middle English tonel cask, tun, from Anglo-French, from tone tun

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tunnel

Statistics for tunnel

Last Updated

10 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tunnel

The first known use of tunnel was in 1508

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tunnel

tunnel

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tunnel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a passage that goes under the ground, through a hill, etc.

tunnel

verb

English Language Learners Definition of tunnel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a tunnel

tunnel

noun
tun·​nel | \ ˈtə-nᵊl How to pronounce tunnel (audio) \

Kids Definition of tunnel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a passage under the ground

tunnel

verb
tunneled or tunnelled; tunneling or tunnelling

Kids Definition of tunnel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a passage under the ground

tunnel

noun
tun·​nel | \ ˈtən-ᵊl How to pronounce tunnel (audio) \

Medical Definition of tunnel

: a bodily channel — see carpal tunnel

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tunnel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tunnel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tunnel

Spanish Central: Translation of tunnel

Nglish: Translation of tunnel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tunnel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tunnel

Comments on tunnel

What made you want to look up tunnel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to be made up of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!