Top Definition
The word Tar Heel (or, Tarheel) is the nickname given to someone who is a native or resident of North Carolina, the Tar Heel State.

The term allegedly comes from the Colonial Era in which tar was one of North Carolina's major products. It came from the workers who walked through the forrest accumulating the tar on their shoes.

A more colorful explanation comes from the Civil War in which North Carolinian soldiers were abandoned by other retreating soldiers to fight alone. Upon returning to the retreaters, the "Tar Heel Boys" told the other soldiers, "Next time we'll put tar on your heels to make them stick," insinuating that they won't be able to flee.
"God bless the Tar Heel boys," General Robert E. Lee exclaimed, on hearing the story.
by Giskard July 13, 2004
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Name for the athletics teams at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dean Smith was the coach of the basketball Tar Heels and is regarded as the greatest coach in the history of college basketball. He compiled 879 career victories as well as 2 national championships.
The Tar Heels kicked the crap out of the Duke Blue Devils and Coach K last night. I see back pain in Coach K's future.
by bmw5233 September 10, 2006
someone who lives in the state of north carolina, but more commonly someone who goes to kick ass school. most known for their mad skills in college bball, their biggest rivals are dookies, or alumni/students of duke u. aka the biggest losers in the world. the fans are loyal, the campus is gorgeous, and the colors are hot. (white and light blue)
the north carolina tar heels won the national championship in college basketball this year.
by rashad lover July 31, 2005
An occupant of UNC-Chapel hill. A fairly smart, pretentious hick. Someone who probably couldn't make it in to Duke.
My brother hates when Duke wins, because he is a Tar Heel
by prole guy March 01, 2005
tarheel is a term used to describe someone from North Carolina. The name originated in the civil war era when a union general remarked that the NC rebels must have tar on their heels because they stick to their lines and don't run no matter how intense the battle becomes.
I would hate to fight an army from NC because according to the tarheel legend you can't beat them without totally destroying them.
by saharadryhumor January 10, 2015
So many Carolinians made their living by and on the water in the early days of sail that they were known by the term for an apprentice sailor in England–tarheel–for their feet were stained with the tar which protected the ratlines, the ladder-like ropes used to ascend the rigging to the sails.
The only way into the interior of the Province of Carolina is by its many rivers so the inhabitants there are called Tarheels for all must be at least an amateur sailor.
by Celtic Southerner August 13, 2010
An unnecessary nightcap (UNC).
Woke up after a long night of drinking to evidence of three tarheels sitting on the counter.
by missingmissing November 17, 2010
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