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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After a pass interference penalty, Johnson found Baker on a 3-yard tunnel screen for a touchdown with 8 seconds remaining in the half and a 19-7 lead after the Jaguars missed a two-point conversion. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, "South Alabama cranks up running game for 37-14 win over Jackson State," 8 Sep. 2019 As urban areas became more populated, tunnels were used to route trains under cities. Kevin Leonard, baltimoresun.com, "The dream of electric trains has origins in Laurel," 6 Sep. 2019 Fact: Loss of the tunnel construction would cost thousands of union construction jobs. Chris Ventura, Detroit Free Press, "Voters seek more information from state attorney general about Line 5 project," 3 Sep. 2019 Today, riot police were out en masse at highway tunnels and at ferry piers as protesters turned their attention again to the Hong Kong airport, a day after clashing with police near the government complex and police headquarters. Ilaria Maria Sala, Quartz, "Hong Kong is having flashbacks to the bad old days of police corruption and mafia ties," 1 Sep. 2019 Footage of their intimidating tunnel at their Marakana stadium went viral before that clash. SI.com, "Bayern, Olympiacos, Red Star: Everything You Need to Know About Spurs' Champions League Opponents," 1 Sep. 2019 People are freaking out because the government is looking for creepy underground manmade tunnels. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "The Government Needs Your Help Finding Sketchy Underground Tunnels ASAP," 30 Aug. 2019 The project will include creek channel widening and deepening, a high water flow bypass tunnel and box culvert replacements, but no levees or flood walls, an omission Irvin praised. Erin Woo, The Mercury News, "Santa Clara’s Llagas Creek flood control project was decades in the making," 28 Aug. 2019 An innovative tunnel concept wasn’t the project’s only selling point. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "BART’s extension through San Jose chosen to receive $125 million federal grant," 28 Aug. 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for tunnel

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tunnel

The first known use of tunnel was in 1508

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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

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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

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