[ tuhn-l ]
See synonyms for: tunneltunnels on Thesaurus.com

  1. an underground passage.

  2. a passageway, as for trains or automobiles, through or under an obstruction, as a city, mountain, river, harbor, or the like.

  1. an approximately horizontal gallery or corridor in a mine.

  2. the burrow of an animal.

  3. Dialect. a funnel.

verb (used with object),tun·neled, tun·nel·ing or (especially British) tun·nelled, tun·nel·ling.
  1. to construct a passageway through or under: to tunnel a mountain.

  2. to make or excavate (a tunnel or underground passage): to tunnel a passage under a river.

  1. to move or proceed by or as if by boring a tunnel: The river tunneled its way through the mountain.

  2. to pierce or hollow out, as with tunnels.

verb (used without object),tun·neled, tun·nel·ing or (especially British) tun·nelled, tun·nel·ling.
  1. to make a tunnel or tunnels: to tunnel through the Alps.

Origin of tunnel

1400–50; late Middle English tonel (noun) <Middle French tonele, tonnelle funnel-shaped net, feminine of tonnel cask, diminutive of tonnetun; see -elle

Other words from tunnel

  • tun·nel·er; especially British, tun·nel·ler, noun
  • tun·nel·like, adjective
  • sub·tun·nel, noun
  • un·tun·neled, adjective
  • un·tun·nelled, adjective

Words Nearby tunnel

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use tunnel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tunnel


/ (ˈtʌnəl) /

  1. an underground passageway, esp one for trains or cars that passes under a mountain, river, or a congested urban area

  2. any passage or channel through or under something

  1. a dialect word for funnel

  2. obsolete the flue of a chimney

verb-nels, -nelling or -nelled or US -nels, -neling or -neled
  1. (tr) to make or force (a way) through or under (something): to tunnel a hole in the wall; to tunnel the cliff

  2. (intr; foll by through, under, etc) to make or force a way (through or under something): he tunnelled through the bracken

Origin of tunnel

C15: from Old French tonel cask, from tonne tun, from Medieval Latin tonna barrel, of Celtic origin

Derived forms of tunnel

  • tunneller or US tunneler, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with tunnel


see light at the end of the tunnel.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.