1903, Tarmac, a trademark name, short for tarmacadam (1882) "pavement created by spraying tar over crushed stone," from tar (n.1) + John L. McAdam (see macadam). By 1919, tarmac was being used generally in Great Britain for "runway."
a viscous liquid, Old English teoru, teru "tar, bitumen, resin, gum," literally "the pitch of (certain kinds of) trees," from Proto-Germanic *terw- (source also of Old Norse tjara, Old Frisian tera, Middle Dutch tar, Dutch teer, German Teer), probably a derivation of *trewo-, from PIE *derw-, variant of root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast," with specialized senses "wood, tree" and derivatives referring to objects made of wood.
Tar baby "a sticky problem," also a derogatory term for "black person," is from an 1881 "Uncle Remus" story by Joel Chandler Harris. Tarheel for "North Carolina resident" first recorded 1864, probably from the gummy resin of pine woods. Tar water, an infusion of tar in cold water, was popular as a remedy from c. 1740 through late 18c.
"material of which macadamized pavement is made," 1826, earlier as an adjective (1824), named for its inventor, Scottish civil engineer John L. McAdam (1756-1836), who developed a method of leveling roads and paving them with gravel and outlined the process in his pamphlet "Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making" (1822). Originally the word meant road material consisting of a solid mass of stones of nearly uniform size laid down in layers (McAdam did not approve of the use of binding materials or rollers). The idea of mixing tar with the gravel began 1880s.
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Definitions of tarmac
a paving material of tar and broken stone; mixed in a factory and shaped during paving;
a paved surface having compressed layers of broken rocks held together with tar;