[ tahr ]
See synonyms for: tartarredtarring on Thesaurus.com

  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.

  1. smoke solids or components: cigarette tar.

verb (used with object),tarred, tar·ring.
  1. to smear or cover with or as if with tar.

  1. of or characteristic of tar.

  2. covered or smeared with tar; tarred.

Idioms about tar

  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,

    • 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.

  1. 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 tar

First recorded before 900; Middle English noun ter, terr(e), Old English teru, teoru, taru; cognate with Dutch, German teer, Old Norse tjara; akin to tree; verb derivative of the noun

Other words from tar

  • non·tarred, adjective
  • un·tarred, adjective

Other definitions for tar (2 of 2)

[ tahr ]

nounInformal: Older Use.
  1. a sailor.

Origin of tar

First recorded in 1670–80; perhaps short for tarpaulin

synonym study For tar

See sailor.

Other words for tar

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use tar in a sentence

  • Hamilton had already turned to Tarring and he wheeled with a snap in his voice.

    Destiny | Charles Neville Buck
  • Once we thought of tarring him; but a tarred horse would be nearly as plain to be noticed as a skew-bald.

    A King's Comrade | Charles Whistler
  • I think that captain deserved tarring and feathering, anyway,' one of the men said to me.

    A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam' | Annie Allnut Brassey
  • The roof he was tarring was a little above him, with the result that he himself was fairly covered with sprinklings of the tar.

British Dictionary definitions for tar (1 of 2)


/ (tɑː) /

  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

verbtars, tarring or tarred (tr)
  1. to coat with tar

  2. tar and feather to punish by smearing tar and feathers over (someone)

  1. tarred with the same brush regarded as having the same faults

Origin of tar

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

Derived forms of tar

  • tarry, adjective
  • tarriness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for tar (2 of 2)


/ (tɑː) /

  1. an informal word for seaman

Origin of tar

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

Scientific definitions for 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.

  1. A solid, sticky substance that remains when tobacco is burned. It accumulates in the lungs of smokers and is considered carcinogenic.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with tar


In addition to the idiom beginning with tar

  • tar and feather

also see:

  • beat the living daylights (tar) out of

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