• synonyms


noun, plural ton·neaus, ton·neaux [tuh-nohz] /tʌˈnoʊz/.
  1. a rear part or compartment of an automobile body, containing seats for passengers.
  2. a complete automobile body having such a rear part.
  3. a waterproof cover, generally of canvas or vinyl, that can be fastened over the cockpit of a roadster or convertible to protect the interior.
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Origin of tonneau

1900–05; < French: literally, cask; Old French tonel. See tunnel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tonneaux

Historical Examples

  • Forty-eight tons (tonneaux) of powder had been placed in the mines.

    The Empire of Russia

    John S. C. Abbott

  • We knew that Williams, the ignoble designer of tonneaux, laboured under the delusion that he could paint.


    William McFee

British Dictionary definitions for tonneaux


noun plural -neaus or -neaux (-nəʊ, -nəʊz)
  1. 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
  2. rare the part of an open car in which the rear passengers sit
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Word Origin

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 tonneaux



1901 as a part of an automobile, from French tonneau, literally "cask, tun." (see tun).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper