[muh-kad-uh m]


a macadamized road or pavement.
the broken stone used in making such a road.

Origin of macadam

1815–25; named after J. L. McAdam (1756–1836), Scottish engineer who invented it Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for macadam

shale, sand, stones, tailings, macadam, screenings, rocks

Examples from the Web for macadam

Contemporary Examples of macadam

  • Cool, dry weather; relatively but not totally flat terrain; soft running surfaces, like dirt, gravel or macadam.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Running the World

    Michael Chertoff

    July 25, 2009

Historical Examples of macadam

  • They are used as dust layers on earth, gravel and macadam surfaces.

  • MacAdam asked that he should at least be bound over to keep the peace.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • Utilitarianism was too much for it, and its stones fell to Macadam.

  • They gained the macadam of the lane that led out from the park gate into the country.


    George Looms

  • Some wonderful records were made in these contests on the macadam.

    Coaching Days & Ways

    E. D. (Edward William Dirom) Cuming

British Dictionary definitions for macadam



a road surface made of compressed layers of small broken stones, esp one that is bound together with tar or asphalt

Word Origin for macadam

C19: named after John McAdam (1756–1836), Scottish engineer, the inventor
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 macadam

1824, named for inventor, Scottish civil engineer John L. McAdam (1756-1836), who developed a method of levelling roads and paving them with gravel and outlined the process in his pamphlet "Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making" (1822). Originally, road material consisting of a solid mass of stones of nearly uniform size laid down in layers; he did not approve of the use of binding materials or rollers. The idea of mixing tar with the gravel began 1880s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper