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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cucking stool \Cuck"ing stool`\ (k?k"?ng st??l`). [Cf. AS. scealfingst[=o]l, a word of similar meaning, allied to scealfor a diver, mergus avis; or possibly from F. coquine a hussy, slut, jade, f. of coquin, OE. cokin, a rascal; or cf. Icel. k?ka to dung, k?kr dung, the name being given as to a disgracing or infamous punishment.] A kind of chair formerly used for punishing scolds, and also dishonest tradesmen, by fastening them in it, usually in front of their doors, to be pelted and hooted at by the mob, but sometimes to be taken to the water and ducked; -- called also a castigatory, a tumbrel, and a trebuchet; and often, but not so correctly, a ducking stool.
--Sir. W. Scott.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

mid-15c., "two-wheeled cart for hauling dung, stones, etc.," earlier an instrument of punishment of uncertain type (early 13c.), from Old French tomberel "dump cart" (Modern French tombereau), from tomber "(let) fall or tumble," possibly from a Germanic source (compare Old Norse tumba "to tumble," Old High German tumon "to turn, reel;" see tumble (v.)). Notoriously the name given to the carts used to take victims to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror (though illustrations often show four-wheeled carts, not true tumbrels).


n. (alternative form of tumbril English)


n. a farm dumpcart for carrying dung; carts of this type were used to carry prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution [syn: tumbril]


A tumbrel (alternatively tumbril), is a two-wheeled cart or wagon typically designed to be hauled by a single horse or ox. Their original use was for agricultural work; in particular they were associated with carrying manure. Their most notable use was taking prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution. They were also used by the military for hauling supplies. In this use the carts were sometimes covered. The two wheels allowed the cart to be tilted to more easily discharge its load. The word is also used as a name for the cucking-stool and for a type of balancing scale used in medieval times to check the weight of coins.

Usage examples of "tumbrel".

I had a mental image of myself as Andrea Chenier, in his tumbrel, rattling along the cobbled streets of Paris on his way to the guillotine.

Indeed, Madoc had ordered a wooden tumbrel wagon made to carry the accumulating treasures and foods, for the coracles were full.

He imagined tumbrels clicking into place somewhere in the back of his addled mind.

Must we watch the bloody flag arise, and ride on tumbrels to the guillotine?

One of us seizes up and dies, and the body squats there and doesn't decay the way the tourists' do when they get shikker in a blind pig bar in downtown Houmitz and stagger out in the gutter and get knocked over by a tumbrel on the way to the casinos.