the capacity of a merchant vessel, expressed either in units of weight, as deadweight tons, or of volume, as gross tons.
ships collectively considered with reference to their carrying capacity or together with their cargoes.
a duty on ships or boats at so much per ton of cargo or freight, or according to the capacity in tons.
Also, tunnage.

1375–1425; late Middle English: duty < Old French. See ton1, -age Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To Tonnage
World English Dictionary
tonnage or tunnage (ˈtʌnɪdʒ)
1.  the capacity of a merchant ship expressed in tons, for which purpose a ton is considered as 40 cubic feet of freight or 100 cubic feet of bulk cargo, unless such an amount would weigh more than 2000 pounds in which case the actual weight is used
2.  the weight of the cargo of a merchant ship
3.  the total amount of shipping of a port or nation, estimated by the capacity of its ships
4.  a duty on ships based either on their capacity or their register tonnage
[C15: from Old French, from tonne barrel]
tunnage or tunnage
[C15: from Old French, from tonne barrel]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


in shipping, the total number of tons registered or carried, or the total carrying capacity.

Learn more about tonnage with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The gross tonnage figure, however, is a fair measure of the usable internal
  volume of the ship.
The public imagines a nation's impact on the sea in terms of the raw tonnage of
  fish it catches.
Not until the middle of the century did the tonnage of steamships upon the sea
  begin to overhaul that of sailing ships.
The tonnage bounties given to the white-herring and whale-fisheries may,
  perhaps, be considered as somewhat of this nature.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature