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[skoul] /skaʊl/
verb (used without object)
to draw down or contract the brows in a sullen, displeased, or angry manner.
to have a gloomy or threatening look.
verb (used with object)
to affect or express with a scowl.
a scowling expression, look, or aspect.
Origin of scowl
1300-50; Middle English scoulen (v.); perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Danish skule to scowl, Norwegian skule to look furtively, though these may be < Low German schūlen to spy
Related forms
scowler, noun
scowlful, adjective
scowlingly, adverb
unscowling, adjective
unscowlingly, adverb
1. frown, lower, glare. 2. glower, gloom. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for scowl
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A scowl of suspicion came over Sube's face as he halted and turned towards the author of his existence.

    Sube Cane Edward Bellamy Partridge
  • And, recognising him, McPherson's frown deepened into a scowl.

  • We were seated at the table by this time, and I saw the doctor look up quickly at him, with something of a scowl on his face.

    Dead Man's Love Tom Gallon
  • I've been pining for a glimpse of The Kid's smile and your scowl.

    The Rhodesian Gertrude Page
  • Look at him, how he scowls at you on your entering an inn-room; think how you scowl yourself to meet his scowl.

    Little Travels and Roadside Sketches William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Halfman watched him with a scowl for a moment and then followed him into the room.

    The Lady of Loyalty House Justin Huntly McCarthy
  • "No; and I don't want any," returned Gatewood, sorting his mail with a scowl and waving away his fruit.

    The Tracer of Lost Persons Robert W. Chambers
  • She returned him a sulky glance of defiance, which made him scowl.

  • "I've come on business," said Micky, with a scowl of dislike, showing no intention of retreating.

    Fame and Fortune Horatio Alger, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for scowl


(intransitive) to contract the brows in a threatening or angry manner
a gloomy or threatening expression
Word Origin
C14: probably from Scandinavian; compare Danish skule to look down, Old English scūlēgede squint-eyed
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 scowl

mid-14c., from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian skule "look furtively, squint, look embarrassed," Danish skule "to scowl, cast down the eyes"). Probably related to Old English sceolh "wry, oblique," Old High German scelah "curved," German scheel "squint-eyed;" from PIE root *sqel- "crooked, curved, bent." Related: Scowled; scowling.


c.1500, from scowl (v.).


c.1500, from scowl (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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