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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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
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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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Tarheeling - n. The act of electing to retreat to the locker room prior to the completion of a game for fear that the opposing team's fans might bump into you while storming the court.
Coach Roy Williams was criticized for his Tarheeling during this year's Florida State basketball game.

Many wondered about the plight of the UNC walkons, who were left on the floor to finish the game, when the rest of the UNC team was Tarheeling.

Dickey V. was quick to blame UNC's Tarheeling on the FSU's coach Hamilton.
by _informed_ January 16, 2012
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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
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Faggot polesmokers who worship the queerest color under the sun and swear it's a virtue. To wit: "God must love Carolina, he made the sky Tarheel Blue." Fucking Biff and Buffy wannabe East Coast effeminate types who routinely switch gender roles in twisted rituals involving strap-ons. Often preceded with the word "fucking".
by Muck November 03, 2004
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someone that is so full of shit that every time they take a step a brown spot is left from where their foot hit the ground, thats not tar on their heels, thats definitly some shit
I was walking on franklin street and i noticed it smelled bad, really bad, my friend looked at me and said "man, its just b/c all the tarheels, here take this gas mask and breath in some good air" to which i responded "thanks, this place is full of shit"
by andy w. from cary March 12, 2005
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