from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A thin, pliable sheet of aluminum or of tin-lead alloy, used as a protective wrapping.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun a thin, pliable sheet of tin or an alloy of tin and lead, used as a protective wrapping
  • noun aluminium foil

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun foil made of tin or an alloy of tin and lead


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Blend of tin and foil



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  • My BF refuses to admit that this word is real. I'm like, "Aluminum foil, tinfoil, get it?" but no, he's never heard it called that by anyone except me. I wonder if it's a regional thing? California vs. Southern (I'm from NYC but my parents are from VA and TN).

    July 13, 2007

  • In the past, lots of people called it tinfoil. I had assumed that "tinfoil" referred to some earlier version of the foil we use. My guess that tinfoil has more to do with generations than regions, but I could be wrong.

    July 13, 2007

  • Ack, he's right! (You are too.) Not that tinfoil is not a word but that tinfoil and aluminum foil are not the same. Wikipedia sez (under aluminum foil):

    Foil made from a thin leaf of tin was commercially available before the aluminium counterpart. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, tin foil was in common use, and some people continue to refer to the new product by the name of the old one. Tin foil is stiffer than aluminium foil.

    July 13, 2007

  • At least you are right in saying that you are not the only one who calls it that!

    July 13, 2007

  • Small consolation - I'd rather be in the right minority than the wrong majority! - but thank you anyway :)

    July 13, 2007

  • AND to add insult to injury, it's entirely possible that I am misremembering his position and he does not deny the existence of the word but merely its application to aluminum foil!! I'll have to ask.

    July 13, 2007

  • Oh, what the heck, arby--get that guy on Wordie and we'll duke it out. ;-)

    July 13, 2007

  • The real question is, which is the better hat material? You know, to protect you from the government rays?

    Ohmygod... what if tinfoil hats protect you, and aluminum foil hats do *nothing at all*. Would explain the disappearance of tin foil, no?

    Maybe I've been wearing this dumb hat for years for no purpose whatsoever.

    July 13, 2007

  • Oh my gosh--hope you don't have any fillings, or you are in deep doodoo!

    July 13, 2007

  • I think you're safe, John, as long as you don't eat your hat.

    July 13, 2007