• synonyms


[bou-uh l, boul]
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  1. Anatomy.
    1. Usually bowels.the intestine.
    2. a part of the intestine.
  2. bowels,
    1. the inward or interior parts: the bowels of the earth.
    2. Archaic.feelings of pity or compassion.
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verb (used with object), bow·eled, bow·el·ing or (especially British) bow·elled, bow·el·ling.
  1. to disembowel.
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Origin of bowel

1250–1300; Middle English b(o)uel < Old French < Latin botellus little sausage (bot(ulus) sausage + -ellus -elle)
Related formsbow·el·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bowels

core, guts, innards, entrails, deep, viscera, belly, interior, hold, intestines, penetralia, recesses, vitals

Examples from the Web for bowels

Contemporary Examples of bowels

Historical Examples of bowels

British Dictionary definitions for bowels


  1. an intestine, esp the large intestine in man
  2. (plural) innards; entrails
  3. (plural) the deep or innermost part (esp in the phrase the bowels of the earth)
  4. (plural) archaic the emotions, esp of pity or sympathy
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Word Origin for bowel

C13: from Old French bouel, from Latin botellus a little sausage, from botulus sausage
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

Word Origin and History for bowels



c.1300, from Old French boele "intestines, bowels, innards" (12c., Modern French boyau), from Medieval Latin botellus "small intestine," originally "sausage," diminutive of botulus "sausage," a word borrowed from Oscan-Umbrian, from PIE *gwet-/*geut- "intestine" (cf. Latin guttur "throat," Old English cwið, Gothic qiþus "belly, womb," German kutteln "guts, chitterlings").

Greek splankhnon (from the same PIE root as spleen) was a word for the principal internal organs, which also were felt in ancient times to be the seat of various emotions. Greek poets, from Aeschylus down, regarded the bowels as the seat of the more violent passions such as anger and love, but by the Hebrews they were seen as the seat of tender affections, especially kindness, benevolence, and compassion. Splankhnon was used in Septuagint to translate a Hebrew word, and from thence early Bibles in English rendered it in its literal sense as bowels, which thus acquired in English a secondary meaning of "pity, compassion" (late 14c.). But in later editions the word often was translated as heart. Bowel movement is attested by 1874.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bowels in Medicine


(bouəl, boul)
  1. The intestine. Often used in the plural.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

bowels in Science


  1. The intestine.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.