Definition of tarmac in English:



trademark in UK
  • 1[mass noun] Material used for surfacing roads or other outdoor areas, consisting of broken stone mixed with tar.

    [as modifier] ‘the tarmac path’
    • ‘A third alternative would be to surround the skateboard area with paving slabs and create access from the main tarmac path to the facility with minor repairs to the surface of the car park.’
    • ‘The surface of the road is made up of a surface layer of tarmac, approximately 4 to 6 inches thick followed by a concrete layer of approximately 12 or 13 inches.’
    • ‘You won't end up wondering what it must have been like 100 years ago because, apart from tarmac road and the other tourists, it's still exactly like it was.’
    • ‘A decision to replace a paving stone surface in historic Corsham town centre with tarmac in a road safety scheme may be reversed.’
    • ‘Many bridleways were closed for many months following the outbreak of the disease, and riders had to exercise their horses on private land where they were grazed, or hack out on tarmac roads.’
    1. 1.1A runway or other area surfaced with tarmac or a similar material.
      • ‘Eyewitnesses reported that one of its wingtips hit the tarmac and the jet crashed through an airport fence and then exploded.’
      • ‘Instead of taking off, however, the plane and its passengers sat on the tarmac in a weather delay for four hours before returning to the terminal.’
      • ‘Five minutes down the tarmac and we take an open and contouring track south-east.’
      • ‘A healthy baby boy was delivered in the back of the helicopter on the tarmac at the Comoro Airfield.’
      • ‘Waiting on the tarmac at Mehrabad Airport to board the flight that would take me south to Kerman, on the dusty edge of Baluchistan, I studied the plane.’


  • Surface (a road or other outdoor area) with tarmac or a similar material.

    ‘there are no tarmacked roads’
    • ‘What is especially odd with cab journeys at the moment though is that most of them take place on a completely empty, beautifully tarmacked road.’
    • ‘A pioneering scheme which has transformed tarmacked roads into open spaces for the community to enjoy may be repeated in other parts of the borough.’
    • ‘The tarmac gang have just been back and tarmacked all 4 square feet of it.’
    • ‘The club is to tarmac an area at the front of the pitch, to turn it into a car park.’
    • ‘Hawkshead Parish Council is considering tarmacking an area of the village's recreation ground to provide up to 20 contract spaces.’
    cover, surface, floor, top, finish, asphalt, flag, tile, tar, tarmac, metal
    View synonyms


Early 20th century: abbreviation of tarmacadam.