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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 scowling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I watched the scowling policeman approach our car while Uncle Peter got back in with the blonde Cora and drove away.

  • He had been scowling while she talked, staring into vacancy in meditation.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • But when they weren't laughing they were scowling, over some new attack upon life—and when they did that they were laughable.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • I saw Gorman scowling at him but Jack did not seem to mind that in the least.

    Gossamer George A. Birmingham
  • He glanced up with a nervous start to see Julian of Ephesus, scowling, at hand.

    The City of Delight Elizabeth Miller
British Dictionary definitions for scowling


(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 scowling



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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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