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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Tonneau \Ton`neau"\, n.; pl. Tonneaux. [F.]

  1. In France, a light-wheeled vehicle with square or rounded body and rear entrance.

  2. (Automobiles) Orig., the after part of the body with entrance at the rear (as in vehicle in def. 1); now, one with sides closing in the seat or seats and entered by a door usually at the side, also, the entire body of an automobile having such an after part.

  3. same as Tonne.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1901, rear part of an automobile, from French tonneau, literally "cask, tun" (see tun).


n. 1 The rear body or compartment of some types of motor vehicle, especially one containing seats for passengers. 2 An old-style open passenger vehicle with a '''tonneau''' (rear compartment with seats). 3 (short for tonneau cover English)


Tonneau cover ( or ) describes a hard or soft cover used to protect unoccupied passenger seats in a convertible or roadster, or the cargo bed in a pickup truck. Hard tonneau covers open by a hinging or folding mechanism while soft covers open by rolling up.

The tonneau cover is used to conceal and or cover cargo. When the cover is pulled out, it keeps items out of the sun and provides extra security by keeping personal items out of sight.

Tonneau (disambiguation)

Tonneau may refer to:

  • Tonneau cover, a car cover
  • Tonneau (wine barrel), oak barrels for winemaking
  • Tonneau (unit), a former unit of mass in the United States of America

Usage examples of "tonneau".

Betty of Mollie, beside whom she rode on the front seat, the boys and other girls being in the tonneau.

In town a defective sparkplug brings the close attention of a crowd which exchanges opinions as to whether the lady in the tonneau is your wife.

Then, after several collegians had climbed into the tonneau, away the touring car dashed over the road leading to Hope.

Reflection from the smooth glass made the empty rectangle a good aiming point, and Kelly's quartering angle on the sedan meant that the bullets would snap across the tonneau and the space most likely to be occupied by the driver's head.

Motorists coming west on 125th Street from the Triborough Bridge saw a speaker standing in the tonneau of an old muddy battered US Army command car, parked in the amber night light at the corner of Second Avenue, in front of a sign which read: CHICKEN AUTO INSURANCE, _Seymour Rosenblum_.

He piled it all into the tonneau of the landaulet, drove to the southside postal substation, registered two letters, went from there to the pawnshop next to the Idle Hour Billiard Parlor.

The collie (fastened by a cord running through his collar from one side of the tonneau to the other) lay fidgetingly on the rear seat.

But before he returned to the Red Mill the Camerons' big car, with Helen and Tom and the chauffeur, flashed past the Red Mill on its way to town and in a remarkably short time reappeared with Mercy sitting beside Helen in the tonneau.