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


tunneled or tunnelled; tunneling or tunnelling\ ˈtən-​liŋ How to pronounce tunnel (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

Other Words from tunnel


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


tunneler \ ˈtən-​lər How to pronounce tunnel (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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Border officials discover massive drug tunnel connecting Tijuana to San Diego. Jack Durschlag, Fox News, 17 May 2022 Authorities discover drug smuggling tunnel from Tijuana to San Diego. Elliot Spagat, USA TODAY, 17 May 2022 Enter at the 42nd Street—Bryant Park/Fifth Avenue Station and travel to the B, D, F and M train platforms deep within to reach the new pedestrian tunnel to the Shuttle at Times Square. New York Times, 16 May 2022 It’s the first tunnel found in the region since March 2020. Alexandra Mendozawriter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 May 2022 To figure out where to set traps, find an active tunnel by probing about six inches down near a fresh mound. oregonlive, 16 May 2022 After applying an insecticide, people should plug the tunnel entrances using trebor plugs, super plugs or wood patch material to stop other insects from invading the holes at a later time. Cole Sikes Alabama Cooperative Extension System, al, 16 May 2022 While the shift knob is worn out and the carpets have some strange cutlines along the transmission tunnel, the leather trimming the seats and door pockets is nearly crack-free. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, 14 May 2022 Bergeron, standing by the tunnel where the visitors exit the PNC Arena ice, embraced all his teammates after the final buzzer. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 14 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Agnes, a student and immigrant, fell in love with a German man named Lenny (Sandor Funtek), who was attempting to tunnel under the Berlin Wall to reunite with his family. Selome Hailu, Variety, 21 Apr. 2022 For example, the Russians were able to exploit accounting software and tunnel their way into global businesses. Dan Patterson, CBS News, 2 Mar. 2022 Youths detained there broke off ceiling light fixtures and used them to tunnel through the walls, according to the staffer and internal documents. NBC News, 10 Mar. 2022 The snow will provide cover for animals such as voles that will tunnel under the snow and make trails that become visible in the lawn after the snow melts. Tim Johnson, chicagotribune.com, 6 Feb. 2022 The damaging diners include deer, squirrels, chipmunks and voles — mouse-sized animals that can tunnel through snow and mulch. Beth Botts, chicagotribune.com, 24 Oct. 2021 Her two dozen or so books and innumerable essays, published throughout a career now in its fourth decade, tunnel variously into history, science, cultural criticism, politics, and the interiors of her own life. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 5 Nov. 2021 In many ways, Magic fans must feel a lot like Dufresne — the prisoner who took 17 years to tunnel his way to freedom. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, 23 Oct. 2021 The conversations are digressive and wry, loaded with references to the Kinsey Scale, Lady Gaga, and byzantine bits that tunnel toward increasingly absurd assertions. Alex Mcelroy, Vulture, 5 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of tunnel


1508, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1795, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for tunnel


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

Learn More About tunnel

Dictionary Entries Near tunnel



tunnel diode

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Statistics for tunnel

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tunnel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tunnel. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for tunnel


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

Kids Definition of tunnel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a passage under the ground


tunneled or tunnelled; tunneling or tunnelling

Kids Definition of tunnel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a passage under the ground


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

Medical Definition of tunnel

: a bodily channel — see carpal tunnel


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