• synonyms


or tum·bril

[tuhm-bruh l]
See more synonyms for tumbrel on Thesaurus.com
  1. one of the carts used during the French Revolution to convey victims to the guillotine.
  2. a farmer's cart, especially one for hauling manure, that can be tilted to discharge its load.
  3. Obsolete. a two-wheeled covered cart accompanying artillery for carrying tools, ammunition, etc.
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Origin of tumbrel

1275–1325; Middle English tumberell ducking stool < Medieval Latin tumberellus < Old French tumberel dump-cart, equivalent to tombe(r) to fall (see tumble) + -rel -rel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

wagon, truck, rickshaw, buggy, dray, gig, dolly, barrow, pushcart, handcart, tumbrel, palanquin, wheelbarrow, gurney, curricle, tilbury, two-wheeler

Examples from the Web for tumbrel

Historical Examples

  • Millers, when they stole corn, were chastised by the tumbrel.

    Ten Thousand Wonderful Things

    Edmund Fillingham King

  • Picture to yourself a tumbrel of prisoners on their way to Lons-le-Saulnier.

    The Companions of Jehu

    Alexandre Dumas, pre

  • Sometimes, when placed on a tumbrel, it was used for ducking.

  • I only thought of Marie Antoinette after the tumbrel went by.

    While Caroline Was Growing

    Josephine Daskam Bacon

  • A man condemned to death is listening to his confessor in the tumbrel.

    Les Misrables

    Victor Hugo

British Dictionary definitions for tumbrel



  1. a farm cart for carrying dung, esp one that tilts backwards to deposit its load. A cart of this type was used to take condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution
  2. (formerly) a covered cart that accompanied artillery in order to carry ammunition, tools, etc
  3. an obsolete word for a ducking stool
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Word Origin

C14 tumberell ducking stool, from Medieval Latin tumbrellum from Old French tumberel dump cart, from tomber to tumble, of Germanic origin
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 tumbrel


mid-15c., "two-wheeled cart," earlier an instrument of punishment of uncertain type (early 13c.), from Old French tumberel "dump cart," from tomber "(let) fall or tumble," possibly from a Germanic source (cf. Old Norse tumba "to tumble," Old High German tumon "to turn, reel;" see tumble). Notoriously used to take victims to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper