Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[bou-uh l, boul] /ˈbaʊ əl, baʊl/
  1. Usually, bowels. the intestine.
  2. a part of the intestine.
  1. the inward or interior parts:
    the bowels of the earth.
  2. Archaic. feelings of pity or compassion.
verb (used with object), boweled, boweling or (especially British) bowelled, bowelling.
to disembowel.
Origin of bowel
1250-1300; Middle English b(o)uel < Old French < Latin botellus little sausage (bot(ulus) sausage + -ellus -elle)
Related forms
bowelless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for bowels
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for bowels


an intestine, esp the large intestine in man
(pl) innards; entrails
(pl) the deep or innermost part (esp in the phrase the bowels of the earth)
(pl) (archaic) the emotions, esp of pity or sympathy
Word Origin
C13: from Old French bouel, from Latin botellus a little sausage, from botulus sausage
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for bowels



c.1300, from Old French boele "intestines, bowels, innards" (12c., Modern French boyau), from Medieval Latin botellus "small intestine," originally "sausage," diminutive of botulus "sausage," a word borrowed from Oscan-Umbrian, from PIE *gwet-/*geut- "intestine" (cf. Latin guttur "throat," Old English cwið, Gothic qiþus "belly, womb," German kutteln "guts, chitterlings").

Greek splankhnon (from the same PIE root as spleen) was a word for the principal internal organs, which also were felt in ancient times to be the seat of various emotions. Greek poets, from Aeschylus down, regarded the bowels as the seat of the more violent passions such as anger and love, but by the Hebrews they were seen as the seat of tender affections, especially kindness, benevolence, and compassion. Splankhnon was used in Septuagint to translate a Hebrew word, and from thence early Bibles in English rendered it in its literal sense as bowels, which thus acquired in English a secondary meaning of "pity, compassion" (late 14c.). But in later editions the word often was translated as heart. Bowel movement is attested by 1874.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
bowels in Medicine

bowel bow·el (bou'əl, boul)
The intestine.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
bowels in Science
The intestine.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for bowels

Difficulty index for bowel

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for bowels

Scrabble Words With Friends