- any of various dark-colored viscid products obtained by the destructive distillation of certain organic substances, as coal or wood.
- coal-tar pitch.
- smoke solids or components: cigarette tar.
- to smear or cover with or as if with tar.
- of or characteristic of tar.
- covered or smeared with tar; tarred.
- 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.
- tar and feather,
- to coat (a person) with tar and feathers as a punishment or humiliation.
- to punish severely: She should be tarred and feathered for what she has done.
- tarred with the same brush, possessing the same shortcomings or guilty of the same misdeeds: The whole family is tarred with the same brush.
Origin of tar1
- any of various dark viscid substances obtained by the destructive distillation of organic matter such as coal, wood, or peat
- another name for coal tar
- to coat with tar
- tar and feather to punish by smearing tar and feathers over (someone)
- tarred with the same brush regarded as having the same faults
- an informal word for seaman
Word Origin and History for tar and feather
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.
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.
"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.
- A dark, oily, viscous material, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons, produced by the destructive distillation of organic substances such as wood, coal, or peat.
- See coal tar.
- A solid, sticky substance that remains when tobacco is burned. It accumulates in the lungs of smokers and is considered carcinogenic.
Idioms and Phrases with tar and feather
tar and feather
Criticize severely, punish, as in The traditionalists often want to tar and feather those who don't conform. This expression alludes to a former brutal punishment in which a person was smeared with tar and covered with feathers, which then stuck. It was first used as a punishment for theft in the English navy, recorded in the Ordinance of Richard I in 1189, and by the mid-1700s had become mob practice. The figurative usage dates from the mid-1800s.
In addition to the idiom beginning with tar
- tar and feather
- beat the living daylights (tar) out of