Sailor Speak of the Week – Tarpaulin

Definition

Noun

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

Origin

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

Comments

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.

References

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

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