Tarpaulin - Encyclopedia

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TARPAULIN, or Tarpauling (as if tarpalling, from tar, and palling, a covering, Lat. palla, a mantle), a heavy, wellmade, double warp plain fabric, of various materials, used chiefly in the manufacture of covers for railway and other waggons and for protecting goods on wharves, quays, &c. To make it proof against rain and other atmospheric influences it is generally treated with tar, though various compositions of different kinds are also employed, especially for the finer fabrics such as are used for covering motor-cars. These covers are generally made of flax, hemp and cotton, and are very similar to canvas - indeed, large quantities of canvas are made waterproof, and then called tarpaulin. A very large quantity of tarpaulin is made entirely of jute. The chief seats of manufacture are Dundee, Arbroath and Kirkcaldy. Formerly the word was used as a sort of nickname for a sailor, the modern "tar" in the same sense being an abbreviation of it.

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