noun, plural ton·neaus, ton·neaux [tuh-nohz] /tʌˈnoʊz/.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tonneau

Historical Examples of tonneau

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for tonneau


noun plural -neaus or -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 for tonneau

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

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