AskDefine | Define tarpaulin

Dictionary Definition

tarpaulin n : waterproofed canvas [syn: tarp]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the words tar and pall (a heavy canvas).



  1. Canvas waterproofed with tar, used as a cover.
  2. Any heavy, waterproof material used as a cover.
  3. A heavy, waterproof sheet of material, often cloth, used as a cover.
    Throw a tarpaulin over that woodpile before it gets wet.
  4. In the context of "slang|archaic": A sailor. Often abbreviated to tar.


Canvas waterproofed with tar, used as a cover
Any heavy, waterproof material used as a cover
A heavy, waterproof sheet of material
A sailor
  • Finnish: merimies

Related terms

Extensive Definition

For the place in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, see Tarp (Germany).
A tarpaulin or tarp is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water resistant or waterproof material, often cloth such as canvas or polyester coated with plastics such as latex or PVC. In some places such as Australia, and in military slang, a tarp may be known as a hootchie. Tarps often have reinforced grommets at the corners and along the sides to form attachment points for rope, allowing them to be tied down or suspended. Inexpensive modern tarps are made from woven polyethylene; this material is so associated with tarps that it has become known as polytarp.


The word tarpaulin originated as a compound of the words tar and palling, referring to a tarred canvas pall used to cover objects on ships. By association, according to one theory, sailors became known as tarpaulins and eventually tars.
When used for a tarp, the word hoochie (also hootchie, hootch, or hooch) comes from the Japanese uchi ("house"). Huts in various parts of rural Asia are known by this or similar names, and during the Korean and Vietnam Wars English-speaking soldiers came to use the word to refer to their own makeshift shelters, which often consisted of little more than a tarp.
In English, the word is normally pronounced "TAR-paul-in". An American pronunciation would be "TAR-pole-in". A colloquial variation adds a vowel sound, resulting in the pronunciation, "tar-POLE-ee-in".


Tarps have multiple uses, including as shelter from the elements (i.e. wind, rain, or sunlight), a ground sheet or a fly in camping, a drop sheet for painting, for protecting the infield of a baseball field, and for protecting objects, such as vehicles or wood piles. It is also used on outdoor market stalls to provide some protection from the elements of nature.

Different kinds of tarpaulin


See also

tarpaulin in Danish: Presenning
tarpaulin in German: Persenning
tarpaulin in Esperanto: Baŝo
tarpaulin in Polish: Brezent
tarpaulin in Portuguese: Lona alcatroada
tarpaulin in Russian: Брезент
tarpaulin in Swedish: Presenning
tarpaulin in Turkish: Tente
tarpaulin in Ukrainian: Брезент
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1