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  1. a brand of bituminous binder, similar to tarmacadam, for surfacing roads, airport runways, parking areas, etc.
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  1. (lowercase) a road, airport runway, parking area, etc., paved with Tarmac, tarmacadam, or a layer of tar.
  2. (lowercase) a layer or covering of Tarmac, tarmacadam, or tar.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tarmac


  1. a paving material that consists of crushed stone rolled and bound with a mixture of tar and bitumen, esp as formerly used for a road, airport runway, etcFull name: tarmacadam (ˌtɑːməˈkædəm) See also macadam
  2. the tarmac a runway at an airporton the tarmac at Nairobi airport
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verb -macs, -macking or -macked
  1. (tr) (usually not capital) to apply tarmac to
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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 tarmac


1903 as a trademark name, short for tarmacadam (1882) "pavement created by spraying tar over crushed stone," from tar (n.1) + John Latin McAdam (see macadam). By 1919, tarmac was being used generally in Great Britain for "runway."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper