Sailor Speak of the Week – Tarpaulin



  • (AKA tarp) A heavy canvas or synthetic material sheet used for various purposes.


Probably earlier than the 17th century. The word paulin, or pauling, comes from Anglo-Saxon, paeil, meaning cover.


Early canvases were covered in pine tar to make them water-resistant. Hence, the tar part. These are used to many purposes, such as covering hatches and boats or as awnings to keep the sun or rain out. They also have many practical uses for camping.


Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport Museum.

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