Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[tou-uh l, toul] /ˈtaʊ əl, taʊl/
an absorbent cloth or paper for wiping and drying something wet, as one for the hands, face, or body after washing or bathing.
verb (used with object), toweled, toweling or (especially British) towelled, towelling.
to wipe or dry with a towel.
throw in the towel, Informal. to concede defeat; give up; yield:
He vowed he would never throw in the towel.
Origin of towel
1250-1300; Middle English (noun) < Old French toaille cloth for washing or wiping < West Germanic *thwahliō (> Old High German dwahilla, akin to dwahal bath); cognate with Gothic thwahl, thwēal washing


[tou-uh-ling, tou-ling] /ˈtaʊ ə lɪŋ, ˈtaʊ lɪŋ/
a narrow fabric of cotton or linen, in plain, twill, or huck weave, used for hand towels or dishtowels.
Also, especially British, towelling.
First recorded in 1575-85; towel + -ing1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for towelling
Historical Examples
  • She rose from the couch, her Turkish towelling drapery flowing far behind her small figure.

    The Mystery of a Turkish Bath E.M. Gollan (AKA Rita)
  • "I don't think I'd go beyond the point there," she said as her towelling fell to her feet.

    The Tower of Oblivion Oliver Onions
  • His head was soon in a basin of water, and out of it again, and staring at her through a storm of towelling.

    Our Mutual Friend Charles Dickens
  • I was in this place having a wash down and towelling vigorously when I heard the steward talking to the cook outside the porthole.

  • Their door was open and there was Mademoiselle in her little alpaca dressing-jacket, towelling her head.

    Pointed Roofs Dorothy Richardson
  • The chief industries are the manufacture of bed and table linen, towelling and woollen cloth, shipbuilding and flax-spinning.

  • No towelling is needed, for the air is so hot and still—but the water is pretty cold—I know!

    From Edinburgh to India & Burmah William G. Burn Murdoch
  • In the pauses of sponging and towelling himself, the Commandant asked the question again and again.

    Major Vigoureux A. T. Quiller-Couch
  • "But I am not a fortune-teller," he said, letting his head drop into a festoon of towel, and towelling away at his two ears.

    Great Expectations Charles Dickens
  • As he now appeared in his doorway, towelling his hands, Wemmick got on his great-coat and stood by to snuff out the candles.

    Great Expectations Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for towelling


an absorbent fabric, esp with a nap, used for making towels, bathrobes, etc


a square or rectangular piece of absorbent cloth or paper used for drying the body
a similar piece of cloth used for drying plates, cutlery, etc
throw in the towel, See throw in (sense 4)
verb (transitive) -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to dry or wipe with a towel
(Austral, slang) often foll by up. to assault or beat (a person)
Word Origin
C13: from Old French toaille, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German dwahal bath, Old Saxon twahila towel, Gothic thwahan to wash
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 towelling



late 13c., from Old French toaille (12c.), from Frankish *thwahlja, from Proto-Germanic *thwakhlijon (cf. Old Saxon thwahila, Middle Dutch dwale "towel," Dutch dwaal "altar cloth," Old High German dwehila "towel," German dialectal Zwehle "napkin"); related to German zwagen, Old English þwean "to wash." Spanish toalla, Italian tovaglia are Germanic loan-words.



1836, from towel (n.). Related: Towelled; towelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for towelling


Related Terms

throw in the towel

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with towelling
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for towelling

Difficulty index for towel

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for towelling

Scrabble Words With Friends