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[trou-uh l] /ˈtraʊ əl/
any of various tools having a flat blade with a handle, used for depositing and working mortar, plaster, etc.
a similar tool with a curved, scooplike blade, used in gardening for taking up plants, turning up earth, etc.
verb (used with object), troweled, troweling or (especially British) trowelled, trowelling.
to apply, shape, smooth, or dig with or as if with a trowel.
Origin of trowel
1300-50; Middle English < Old French truelle < Late Latin truella, equivalent to Latin tru(a) ladle + -ella -elle
Related forms
troweler; especially British, troweller, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for trowel
Historical Examples
  • I asked him if he filled his pies with a trowel and you ought to have heard him sputter.

    Mary-'Gusta Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The trowel is the instrument with which these honours—and these fortunes—are won.

    Personality in Literature Rolfe Arnold Scott-James
  • The mixed mortar is then applied with a trowel in a workmanlike manner.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • A garden; and I could dig the pond if I had brought the trowel.

    Jewel Clara Louise Burnham
  • Ibarra offered the trowel to the curate, who descended slowly in his turn.

    An Eagle Flight Jos Rizal
  • He gallantly offered the trowel to Maria Clara, but she refused, with a smile.

    An Eagle Flight Jos Rizal
  • “It is well they gave the trowel to you instead of me,” said a trembling old man.

    An Eagle Flight Jos Rizal
  • But they waited until he had gone, and then they started with their baskets, trowel, and garden-fork.

    'Our guy' Mrs. E. E. Boyd
  • "He must first receive the trowel," whispered one of the brothers.

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
  • Then he absolutely refused to put his hand to a spade or a trowel.

    The Vicar of Bullhampton

    Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for trowel


any of various small hand tools having a flat metal blade attached to a handle, used for scooping or spreading plaster or similar materials
a similar tool with a curved blade used by gardeners for lifting plants, etc
verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
(transitive) to use a trowel on (plaster, soil, etc)
Derived Forms
troweller, (US) troweler, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French truele, from Latin trulla a scoop, from trua a stirring spoon
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 trowel

mid-14c., "tool for spreading plaster or mortar," from Old French truele (13c.), from Late Latin truella "small ladle, dipper" (mid-12c.), diminutive of Latin trua "a stirring spoon, ladle, skimmer." The gardening tool was so called since 1796.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with trowel


see under lay it on thick
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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