or tum·bril

[ tuhm-bruhl ]
See 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.

  1. Obsolete. a two-wheeled covered cart accompanying artillery for carrying tools, ammunition, etc.

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

Words Nearby tumbrel

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

How to use tumbrel in a sentence

  • You may see many such crowding round the guillotine or the tumbrel in pictures of the French Revolution.

    Sword and Gown | George A. Lawrence
  • There were some thirty men in this tumbrel, whose sole crime was foolish exaltation of thought and threatening language.

    The Companions of Jehu | Alexandre Dumas, pre
  • In some places, millers, if detected stealing corn, were placed in the tumbrel.

    Bygone Punishments | William Andrews
  • Her body bounded at every jolt of the tumbrel like a dead or broken thing; her gaze was dull and imbecile.

    Notre-Dame de Paris | Victor Hugo
  • An inquisition held in 1383 discloses two markets, a merchant gild, pillory and tumbrel.

British Dictionary definitions for tumbrel



/ (ˈtʌmbrəl) /

  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

  1. an obsolete word for a ducking stool

Origin of tumbrel

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