Tar is a very thick liquid that's used to cover road surfaces. You can't walk on fresh, hot tar—you have to wait until it's completely dry.

Besides coating streets and parking lots, tar is also used to waterproof things like roofing shingles and wooden boats. Because it has disinfecting properties, you can sometimes find tar in soap, medicinal shampoos, and even as flavoring in candy and alcohol. When you tar something, you spread tar on it. Long ago, to tar and feather someone was to apply painfully hot, burning tar and feathers to their skin, as a brutal kind of vigilante punishment.

Primary Meanings of tar

any of various dark heavy viscid substances obtained as a residue
coat with tar
a man who serves as a sailor
Full Definitions of tar

n any of various dark heavy viscid substances obtained as a residue

coal tar
a tar formed from distillation of bituminous coal; coal tar can be further distilled to give various aromatic compounds
Type of:
any of various naturally occurring impure mixtures of hydrocarbons

v coat with tar

tar the roof”
tar the roads”
Type of:
coat, surface
put a coat on; cover the surface of; furnish with a surface

n a man who serves as a sailor

Jack, Jack-tar, gob, mariner, old salt, sea dog, seafarer, seaman
show 17 types...
hide 17 types...
able seaman, able-bodied seaman
a seaman in the merchant marine; trained in special skills
bo's'n, bo'sun, boatswain, bos'n, bosun
a petty officer on a merchant ship who controls the work of other seamen
deckhand, roustabout
a member of a ship's crew who performs manual labor
helmsman, steerer, steersman
the person who steers a ship
bargee, bargeman, lighterman
someone who operates a barge
officer, ship's officer
a person authorized to serve in a position of authority on a vessel
a person qualified to guide ships through difficult waters going into or out of a harbor
sea lawyer
an argumentative and contentious seaman
a seaman who works on a ship that hunts whales
cox, coxswain
the helmsman of a ship's boat or a racing crew
captain, master, sea captain, skipper
an officer who is licensed to command a merchant ship
first mate, mate
the officer below the master on a commercial ship
privateer, privateersman
an officer or crew member of a privateer
an officer aboard a ship who keeps accounts and attends to the passengers' welfare
navigator, sailing master
the ship's officer in charge of navigation
the ship's officer who is in charge of provisions and dining arrangements
an officer on a merchant ship in charge of the cargo and its sale and purchase
Type of:
crewman, sailor
any member of a ship's crew

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.