Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

tar1

[tahr]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. any of various dark-colored viscid products obtained by the destructive distillation of certain organic substances, as coal or wood.
  2. coal-tar pitch.
  3. smoke solids or components: cigarette tar.
Show More
verb (used with object), tarred, tar·ring.
  1. to smear or cover with or as if with tar.
Show More
adjective
  1. of or characteristic of tar.
  2. covered or smeared with tar; tarred.
Show More
Idioms
  1. beat/knock/whale the tar out of, Informal. to beat mercilessly: The thief had knocked the tar out of the old man and left him for dead.
  2. tar and feather,
    1. to coat (a person) with tar and feathers as a punishment or humiliation.
    2. to punish severely: She should be tarred and feathered for what she has done.
  3. tarred with the same brush, possessing the same shortcomings or guilty of the same misdeeds: The whole family is tarred with the same brush.
Show More

Origin of tar1

before 900; (noun) Middle English tarr(e), ter(re), Old English teru; cognate with Dutch, German teer, Old Norse tjara; akin to tree; (v.) Middle English terren, Old English tierwian, derivative of the noun
Related formsnon·tarred, adjectiveun·tarred, adjective

tar2

[tahr]
noun Informal.
  1. a sailor.
Show More

Origin of tar2

First recorded in 1740–50; perhaps short for tarpaulin

Synonyms

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
seafarer, gob. See sailor.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tar

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples


British Dictionary definitions for tar

tar1

noun
  1. any of various dark viscid substances obtained by the destructive distillation of organic matter such as coal, wood, or peat
  2. another name for coal tar
Show More
verb tars, tarring or tarred (tr)
  1. to coat with tar
  2. tar and feather to punish by smearing tar and feathers over (someone)
  3. tarred with the same brush regarded as having the same faults
Show More
Derived Formstarry, adjectivetarriness, noun

Word Origin

Old English teoru; related to Old Frisian tera, Old Norse tjara, Middle Low German tere tar, Gothic triu tree

tar2

noun
  1. an informal word for seaman
Show More

Word Origin

C17: short for tarpaulin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tar

n.1

a viscous liquid, Old English teoru, teru, literally "the pitch of (certain kinds of) trees," from Proto-Germanic *terwo- (cf. Old Norse tjara, Old Frisian tera, Middle Dutch tar, Dutch teer, German Teer), probably a derivation of *trewo-, from PIE *drew- "tree" (cf. Sanskrit daru "wood;" Lithuanian darva "pine wood;" Greek dory "beam, shaft of a spear," drys "tree, oak;" Gothic triu, Old English treow "tree;" see tree).

Tar baby is from an 1881 "Uncle Remus" story by Joel Chandler Harris. Tarheel for "North Carolina resident" first recorded 1864, probably from the gummy resin of pine woods. Tar water, an infusion of tar in cold water, was popular as a remedy from c.1740 through late 18c.

Show More

n.2

"sailor," 1670s, probably a special use of tar (n.1), which was a staple for waterproofing aboard old ships (sailors also being jocularly called knights of the tarbrush); or possibly a shortened form of tarpaulin, which was recorded as a nickname for a sailor in 1640s, from the tarpaulin garments they wore.

Show More

v.

in tar and feather, 1769. A mob action in U.S. in Revolutionary times and several decades thereafter. Originally it had been imposed by an ordinance of Richard I (1189) as punishment in the navy for theft. Among other applications over the years was its use in 1623 by a bishop on "a party of incontinent friars and nuns" [OED], but not until 1769 was the verbal phrase attested. Related: Tarred; tarring.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tar in Science

tar

[tär]
  1. A dark, oily, viscous material, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons, produced by the destructive distillation of organic substances such as wood, coal, or peat.
  2. See coal tar.
  3. A solid, sticky substance that remains when tobacco is burned. It accumulates in the lungs of smokers and is considered carcinogenic.
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with tar

tar

In addition to the idiom beginning with tar

also see:

Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.