from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A dark, oily, viscous material, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons, produced by the destructive distillation of organic substances such as wood, coal, or peat.
  • n. Coal tar.
  • n. A solid residue of tobacco smoke containing byproducts of combustion.
  • transitive v. To coat with or as if with tar.
  • idiom tar and feather To punish (a person) by covering with tar and feathers.
  • idiom tar and feather To criticize severely and devastatingly; excoriate.
  • idiom tarred with the same brush Having the same faults or bad qualities.
  • n. Informal A sailor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A black, oily, sticky, viscous substance, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons derived from organic materials such as wood, peat, or coal.
  • n. Coal tar.
  • n. A solid residual byproduct of tobacco smoke.
  • n. A sailor, because of their tarpaulin clothes. Also Jack Tar.
  • n. black tar, a form of heroin
  • v. To coat with tar.
  • n. A program for archiving files, common on Unix.
  • n. A file produced by such a program.
  • v. To create a tar archive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sailor; a seaman.
  • n. A thick, black, viscous liquid obtained by the distillation of wood, coal, etc., and having a varied composition according to the temperature and material employed in obtaining it.
  • transitive v. To smear with tar, or as with tar

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To smear with tar; figuratively, to cover as with tar.
  • To incite; provoke; hound.
  • n. A small silver coin formerly current on the Malabar coast, especially at Tellicherri and Calicut. Sixteen tars of Calicut equal one fanam; one tar of Tellicherri is equivalent to four reas, and one hundred tars equal one rupee.
  • n. A thick dark-colored viscid product obtained by the destructive distillation of organic substances and bituminous minerals, as wood, coal, peat, shale, etc.
  • n. A sailor: so called from his tarred clothes, hands, etc. Also Jack Tar.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a man who serves as a sailor
  • v. coat with tar
  • n. any of various dark heavy viscid substances obtained as a residue


Middle English, from Old English teru; see deru- in Indo-European roots.
Possibly short for tarpaulin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English terr, tarr, from Old English teoru, teru, from Proto-Germanic *terwan (compare West Frisian tarre, Dutch teer), from Proto-Indo-European *deru̯o (compare Welsh derw ‘oaks’, Lithuanian dervà ‘pinewood, resin’, Russian дерево (dérevo) ‘tree’), from *dóru ‘tree’. More at tree. (Wiktionary)
Abbreviation of tape archive. (Wiktionary)



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