AskDefine | Define tar

Dictionary Definition



1 any of various dark heavy viscid substances obtained as a residue [syn: pitch]
2 a man who serves as a sailor [syn: mariner, seaman, Jack-tar, Jack, old salt, seafarer, gob, sea dog] v : coat with tar; "tar the roof"; "tar the roads" [also: tarring, tarred]

User Contributed Dictionary



From teru, teoru, from Germanic *terwo-, probably a derivation of *trewo- ( > English tree), from Indo-European *drew ‘tree’. Cognate with Dutch teer, German Teer, Swedish tjära.


  • italbrac RP /tɑː/
  • italbrac US /tɑɻ/
  • Rhymes with: -ɑː(r)


  1. A black, oily, sticky, viscous substance, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons derived from organic materials such as wood, peat, or coal.
  2. Coal tar.
  3. A solid residual byproduct of tobacco smoke.
  4. In the context of "slang|dated": A sailor, because of their tarpaulin clothes. Also Jack Tar.
  5. a program for archiving files, common on Unix
  6. a file produced by such a program


coal tar
byproduct of tobacco smoke


  1. To coat with tar.
  2. To create a tar archive.


* Catalan: enquitranar

Related terms







  • lang=ga|[t̪ˠaɾˠ]


  1. to come





From (, to fly)





  1. present tense of ta

Extensive Definition

Tar is a viscous black liquid derived from the destructive distillation of organic matter. Most tar is produced from coal as a byproduct of coke production, but it can also be produced from petroleum, peat or wood.

Types of tar


The word "tar" is used to describe several distinct substances. Naturally occurring "tar pits" (e.g. the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles) actually contain asphalt, not tar, and are more accurately known as asphalt pits. Tar sand deposits contain various mixtures of sand (or rock) with bitumen or heavy crude oil rather than tar, as does the Tar Tunnel in Shropshire. "Rangoon tar", also known as "Burmese Oil" or "Burmese Naphtha", is actually petroleum. "Tar" and "pitch (resin)" are sometimes used interchangeably; however, pitch is considered more solid while tar is more liquid.


In English and French, "tar" is a substance primarily derived from coal. It was formerly one of the products of a gasworks. Tar made from coal or petroleum is considered toxic and carcinogenic because of its high benzene content, however, coal tar in low concentrations is used as a topical medicine. Coal and petroleum tar has a pungent odor.
Coal tar is listed at number 1999 in the United Nations list of dangerous goods.


In Northern Europe, the word "tar" refers primarily to a substance derived from wood, which is used even as an additive in the flavoring of candy and other foods. Wood tar is microbicidial and has a pleasant odor.
The heating (dry distilling) of pine wood causes tar and pitch to drip away from the wood and leave behind charcoal. Birchbark is used to make particularly fine tar (tökötti). The by-products of wood tar are turpentine and charcoal. When deciduous tree woods are subjected to destructive distillation the products are methanol (wood alcohol) and charcoal.


Tar is used in treatment of the skin disease psoriasis, where coal tar is the most effective. Tar is also a general disinfectant. Petroleum tar was also used in ancient Egyptian mummification circa 1000 BC.
Tar was a vital component of the first sealed, or "tarmac", roads. It was also used as seal for roofing shingles and to seal the hulls of ships and boats. For millennia wood tar was used to waterproof sails and boats, but today sails made from inherently waterproof synthetic substances have negated the need for tar. Wood tar is still used to seal traditional wooden boats and the roofs of historical shingle-roofed churches, as well painting exterior walls of log buildings.
In Finland wood tar was once considered a panacea reputed to heal "even those cut in twain through their midriff". A Finnish proverb states that if sauna, vodka and tar won't help, the disease is fatal. Wood tar is used in traditional Finnish medicine because of its microbicidial properties.
Wood tar is also available diluted as tar water, which has numerous uses:
  • As a flavoring for candies (e.g. Terva Leijona) and alcohol (Terva Viina)
  • As a spice for food, like meat
  • As a scent for saunas. Tar water is mixed into water that is turned to steam to the air
  • As an anti-dandruff agent in shampoo
  • As a component of cosmetics
Mixing tar with linseed oil varnish produces tar paint. Tar paint has a translucent brownish hue, and can be used to saturate and tone wood and protect it from weather. Tar paint can also be toned with various pigments, producing translucent colours and preserving the wood texture. Because of its paint-like properties, wet tar should not be touched with bare skin, as it can dry to produce a permanent stain. However, in some cases, paint thinner has been known to remove it.
tar in Arabic: قار
tar in Chuvash: Тикĕт
tar in Czech: Dehet
tar in Danish: Tjære
tar in German: Teer
tar in Spanish: Alquitrán
tar in Esperanto: Gudro
tar in Persian: قیر
tar in French: Goudron
tar in Galician: Alcatrán
tar in Italian: Catrame
tar in Hebrew: זפת
tar in Dutch: Teer
tar in Japanese: 乾留液
tar in Norwegian: Tjære
tar in Polish: Smoła
tar in Portuguese: Alcatrão
tar in Russian: Дёготь
tar in Finnish: Terva
tar in Swedish: Tjära
tar in Vietnamese: Hắc ín
tar in Turkish: Katran
tar in Ukrainian: Гудрон
tar in Yiddish: פעך
tar in Samogitian: Smala

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

AB, Amytal, Amytal pill, Ancient Mariner, Argonaut, Demerol, Dolophine, Dylan, Flying Dutchman, H, Luminal, Luminal pill, M, Mickey Finn, Nembutal, Nembutal pill, Neptune, OD, Poseidon, Seconal, Seconal pill, Tuinal, Tuinal pill, Varuna, able seaman, able-bodied seaman, alcohol, amobarbital sodium, analgesic, anodyne, asphalt, barb, barbiturate, barbiturate pill, bedaub, besmear, besmirch, black stuff, blacktop, blue, blue angel, blue devil, blue heaven, blue velvet, bluejacket, buccaneer, butter, calmative, carpet, causeway, cement, charcoal, chloral hydrate, coal, coat, cobblestone, codeine, codeine cough syrup, concrete, crow, dab, daub, deep-sea man, defile, depressant, depressor, discolor, dolly, downer, ebon, ebony, enamel, fair-weather sailor, fisherman, flag, floor, gild, gloss, goofball, hard stuff, hearty, heroin, hop, horse, hypnotic, ink, jack, jack afloat, jack-tar, jacky, jet, junk, knockout drops, lacquer, laudanum, lay on, limey, liquor, lobsterman, lotus, mariner, matelot, meperidine, metal, methadone, morphia, morphine, narcotic, navigator, night, opiate, opium, pacifier, pain killer, paregoric, pave, pebble, pen yan, phenobarbital, phenobarbital sodium, pirate, pitch, prime, privateer, purple heart, quietener, rainbow, raven, red, sailor, salt, scag, sea dog, sea rover, seafarer, seafaring man, seaman, secobarbital sodium, sedative, shipman, shit, slap on, slather, sleep-inducer, sleeper, sleeping draught, sleeping pill, sloe, smack, smear, smear on, smoke, smut, sodium thiopental, soil, somnifacient, soot, soother, soothing syrup, soporific, spread on, spread with, stain, sully, tarnish, tarpaulin, tranquilizer, turps, undercoat, viking, water dog, whaler, white stuff, windjammer, windsailor, yellow, yellow jacket
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1