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[tuh-noh] /tʌˈnoʊ/
noun, plural tonneaus, tonneaux
[tuh-nohz] /tʌˈnoʊz/ (Show IPA)
a rear part or compartment of an automobile body, containing seats for passengers.
a complete automobile body having such a rear part.
a waterproof cover, generally of canvas or vinyl, that can be fastened over the cockpit of a roadster or convertible to protect the interior.
Origin of tonneau
1900-05; < French: literally, cask; Old French tonel. See tunnel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tonneau
Historical Examples
  • He bestowed his companion in the tonneau and ensconced himself beside her.

    Ruggles of Red Gap Harry Leon Wilson
  • Then the young man in the tonneau took charge of the conversation.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The girl in the tonneau swept aside her veil and looked, as directed.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The man caught him under the arms and tossed him into the tonneau of a limousine at the curb.

    The Mind Master Arthur J. Burks
  • Peter admitted that he was and the boy swung the door of the tonneau open.

    The Vagrant Duke George Gibbs
  • Brierly drove and for precaution's sake Peter sat in the tonneau with Shad.

    The Vagrant Duke George Gibbs
  • They drove away, two long poles and a coil of rope in the tonneau.


    Jane Abbott
  • It landed on the floor of the tonneau, but like a flash Tom was after it.

    The Rover Boys on Treasure Isle Edward Stratemeyer (AKA Arthur M. Winfield)
  • Rufus put these in at the front and himself entered the tonneau with his guest.

    In Apple-Blossom Time

    Clara Louise Burnham
  • "Very well," came Mrs. Gray's placid voice from the tonneau.

    Grace Harlowe's Golden Summer Jessie Graham Flower
British Dictionary definitions for tonneau


noun (pl) -neaus, -neaux (-nəʊ; -nəʊz)
Also called tonneau cover
  1. a detachable cover to protect the rear part of an open car when it is not carrying passengers
  2. a similar cover that fits over all the passenger seats, but not the driver's, in an open vehicle
(rare) the part of an open car in which the rear passengers sit
Word Origin
C20: from French: special type of vehicle body, from Old French tonnel cask, from tonne tun
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
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Word Origin and History for tonneau

1901 as a part of an automobile, from French tonneau, literally "cask, tun." (see tun).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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