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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
  • Then the young man in the tonneau took charge of the conversation.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The chap in the tonneau was Joe Snead, too fat and indolent to take part in any game of an athletic nature.

  • Brierly drove and for precaution's sake Peter sat in the tonneau with Shad.

    The Vagrant Duke George Gibbs
  • The pole of the latter vehicle was then led over the tonneau of the auto and Joe and Ding-dong deputed to steer.

  • They drove away, two long poles and a coil of rope in the tonneau.

    Highacres Jane Abbott
  • 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
  • It landed on the floor of the tonneau, but like a flash Tom was after it.

    The Rover Boys on Treasure Isle Edward Stratemeyer (AKA Arthur M. Winfield)
  • 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
  • Rufus put these in at the front and himself entered the tonneau with his guest.

    In Apple-Blossom Time Clara Louise Burnham
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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