Tarpaulins

or Tars. Sailors, more frequently called Jack Tars. Tarpaulins are tarred cloths used commonly on board ship to keep articles from the sea-spray, etc.

The more correct spelling is tar-palling, from pall, Latin pallium, a cloak or cloth.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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