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[rou-uh l] /ˈraʊ əl/
a small wheel with radiating points, forming the extremity of a spur.
Veterinary Medicine. a piece of leather or the like inserted beneath the skin of a horse or other animal to promote drainage of an infection.
verb (used with object), roweled, roweling or (especially British) rowelled, rowelling.
to prick or urge with a rowel.
Veterinary Medicine. to insert a rowel in.
Origin of rowel
1350-1400; Middle English rowelle < Middle French ruelle, Old French roel < Late Latin rotella, equivalent to Latin rot(a) wheel + -ella -elle
Related forms
unroweled; especially British, unrowelled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rowel
Historical Examples
  • A few horse-hairs twisted and caught in the sharp points of the rowel.

  • The rowel of his spur rattled as he jerked his foot up and down at the ankle.

    A Tar-Heel Baron Mabell Shippie Clarke Pelton
  • rowel threw the whole weight of his body upon him to stop that tongue.

  • I am afraid, Mr. rowel, the case is a very serious one indeed.

  • "From the very nature of things, my dear," Mr. rowel replied.

  • The shank of the spur is the bridge and road, the rowel the church and rectory.

    Cradock Nowell, Vol. 1 (of 3) Richard Doddridge Blackmore
  • She twirled her rowel in silence for a time, her eyes fixed on it.

    The Heritage of the Hills Arthur P. Hankins
  • He lifted the wooden stirrup and touched with his finger the rowel marks.

    The Quirt B.M. Bower
  • Its ruthless rider proved irresistible—and, clinging like fate itself, plied the scourge and rowel like a fiend.

    The Yankee Tea-party

    Henry C. Watson
  • Scarcely had the rowel reached his side, when down he fell, sending me head foremost over his neck into the water.

    Arthur O'Leary Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for rowel


a small spiked wheel attached to a spur
(vet science, obsolete) a piece of leather or other material inserted under the skin of a horse to act as a seton and allow drainage
verb (transitive) -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to goad (a horse) using a rowel
(vet science, obsolete) to insert a rowel in (the skin of a horse) to allow drainage
Word Origin
C14: from Old French roel a little wheel, from roe a wheel, from Latin rota
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
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Word Origin and History for rowel

"pointed wheel on a spur," mid-14c., from Old French roelle, roel (Modern French rouelle), "small wheel" (see roulette).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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