• 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 for tumbril

van, car, cart, carriage, caravan, chariot, lorry, coach, tram, buggy, dray, caisson, schooner, wain, buckboard, camion, tumbril, barouche, fourgon, gilly

Examples from the Web for tumbril

Historical Examples of tumbril

  • The second tumbril empties and moves on; the third comes up.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • The tumbril and the guillotine would not have made her weep.

    The Paliser case

    Edgar Saltus

  • The bodies of the victims were placed in a tumbril lighted by torches.

  • Up the Canongate comes the rumbling of a tumbril, like the French Revolution.

  • Then she was put into the tumbril, and was started on her way to the scaffold.


    Albert Payson Terhune

British Dictionary definitions for tumbril



  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 for 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

Word Origin and History for tumbril



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