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or tumbril

[tuhm-bruh l] /ˈtʌm brəl/
one of the carts used during the French Revolution to convey victims to the guillotine.
a farmer's cart, especially one for hauling manure, that can be tilted to discharge its load.
Obsolete. a two-wheeled covered cart accompanying artillery for carrying tools, ammunition, etc.
Origin of tumbrel
1275-1325; Middle English tumberell ducking stool < Medieval Latin tumberellus < Old French tumberel dump-cart, equivalent to tombe(r) to fall (see tumble) + -rel -rel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tumbrel
Historical Examples
  • At Wootton Bassett there was a tumbrel, which, until within the last few years, was perfect.

    Bygone Punishments William Andrews
  • Sometimes, when placed on a tumbrel, it was used for ducking.

  • The tumbrel was a low-rolling cart or carriage (in law Latin, tumberella) which was used as a punishment of disgrace and infamy.

    Ten Thousand Wonderful Things Edmund Fillingham King
  • I only thought of Marie Antoinette after the tumbrel went by.

    While Caroline Was Growing Josephine Daskam Bacon
  • It was on the Place de la Nation, on a tumbrel—going to the guillotine.

    Barlasch of the Guard H. S. Merriman
  • A man condemned to death is listening to his confessor in the tumbrel.

    Les Misrables Victor Hugo
  • Her body bounded at every jolt of the tumbrel like a dead or broken thing; her gaze was dull and imbecile.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • When the ducking was accomplished, the tumbrel was drawn out of the water by the ropes.

  • The instruments most in vogue with our ancestors were three—the cucking-stool, the brank, and the tumbrel.

    Ten Thousand Wonderful Things Edmund Fillingham King
  • Monseigneur de Belzunce sat upon the seat of the tumbrel laden with corpses, driven by a convict stained with every crime.

    A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot
British Dictionary definitions for tumbrel


a farm cart for carrying dung, esp one that tilts backwards to deposit its load. A cart of this type was used to take condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution
(formerly) a covered cart that accompanied artillery in order to carry ammunition, tools, etc
an obsolete word for a ducking stool
Word Origin
C14 tumberell ducking stool, from Medieval Latin tumbrellum from Old French tumberel dump cart, from tomber to tumble, of Germanic origin
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 tumbrel

mid-15c., "two-wheeled cart," earlier an instrument of punishment of uncertain type (early 13c.), from Old French tumberel "dump cart," from tomber "(let) fall or tumble," possibly from a Germanic source (cf. Old Norse tumba "to tumble," Old High German tumon "to turn, reel;" see tumble). Notoriously used to take victims to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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