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[tuh-noh] /tʌˈnoʊ/
noun, plural tonneaus, tonneaux
[tuh-nohz] /tʌˈnoʊz/ (Show IPA)
a rear part or compartment of an automobile body, containing seats for passengers.
a complete automobile body having such a rear part.
a waterproof cover, generally of canvas or vinyl, that can be fastened over the cockpit of a roadster or convertible to protect the interior.
Origin of tonneau
1900-05; < French: literally, cask; Old French tonel. See tunnel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tonneau
Historical Examples
  • Some loungers on the sidewalk, observing the unconscious form in the tonneau, began crowding around the car and asking questions.

    Motor Matt's Mystery Stanley R. Matthews
  • Her aunt and the mechanician were sitting in the tonneau behind.

    The World Peril of 1910 George Griffith
  • The chap in the tonneau was Joe Snead, too fat and indolent to take part in any game of an athletic nature.

  • Then it stopped, and a capped and goggled head was thrust out of the tonneau.

    Shoe-Bar Stratton Joseph Bushnell Ames
  • The pole of the latter vehicle was then led over the tonneau of the auto and Joe and Ding-dong deputed to steer.

  • Nikky flung his long length into the tonneau, and there crouched.

    Long Live the King Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • A flashily dressed young man, smoking a cigarette, was driving it, and three girls were sitting in the tonneau.

    Bert Wilson at the Wheel J. W. Duffield
  • Together we put it into the tonneau, the while I debated with myself what to do and what to say.

  • Then I yelled to Payne to get into the tonneau There was no more pride left in him than in a rag, and he crawled over, like a dog.

    The Lightning Conductor C. N. Williamson
  • Biff Bates laughed as he clambered into the tonneau with Bobby.

    The Making of Bobby Burnit George Randolph Chester
British Dictionary definitions for tonneau


noun (pl) -neaus, -neaux (-nəʊ; -nəʊz)
Also called tonneau cover
  1. a detachable cover to protect the rear part of an open car when it is not carrying passengers
  2. a similar cover that fits over all the passenger seats, but not the driver's, in an open vehicle
(rare) the part of an open car in which the rear passengers sit
Word Origin
C20: from French: special type of vehicle body, from Old French tonnel cask, from tonne tun
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
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Word Origin and History for tonneau

1901 as a part of an automobile, from French tonneau, literally "cask, tun." (see tun).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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