• synonyms


[grav-uh l]
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  1. small stones and pebbles, or a mixture of these with sand.
  2. Pathology.
    1. multiple small calculi formed in the kidneys.
    2. the disease characterized by such concretions.
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verb (used with object), grav·eled, grav·el·ing or (especially British) grav·elled, grav·el·ling.
  1. to cover with gravel.
  2. to bring to a standstill from perplexity; puzzle.
  3. Informal. to be a cause of irritation to.
  4. Obsolete. to run (a ship) aground, as on a beach.
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  1. harsh and grating: a gravel voice.
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Origin of gravel

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French gravele, diminutive of grave sandy shore, perhaps < Celtic; cf. grave4, growan
Related formsgrav·el·ish, adjectiveun·grav·eled, adjectiveun·grav·elled, adjectivewell-grav·eled, adjectivewell-grav·elled, adjective
Can be confusedgavel gravel grovel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for gravel

shale, sand, stones, tailings, macadam, screenings, rocks

Examples from the Web for gravel

Contemporary Examples of gravel

Historical Examples of gravel

  • The plaint of the gravel travelled slowly all round the drive.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • An' so the gravel laid there, an' we walked round it, watchers an' all.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • What the gardener called the gravel path was black earth, moss-grown.

  • (on the gravel), but he was immediately recovered, none the worse.

  • He drew his short sword from its sheath, and scratched a deep mark in the gravel.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

British Dictionary definitions for gravel


  1. an unconsolidated mixture of rock fragments that is coarser than sand
  2. geology a mixture of rock fragments with diameters in the range 4–76 mm
  3. pathol small rough calculi in the kidneys or bladder
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verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled (tr)
  1. to cover with gravel
  2. to confound or confuse
  3. US informal to annoy or disturb
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Derived Formsgravelish, adjective

Word Origin for gravel

C13: from Old French gravele, diminutive of grave gravel, perhaps of Celtic origin
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 gravel


early 13c., from Old French gravele "sand, gravel," diminutive of grave "sand, seashore" (Modern French grève), possibly from Celtic *gravo- (cf. Welsh gro "coarse gravel," Breton grouan, Cornish grow "gravel"), perhaps ultimately from PIE *ghreu- "to rub, grind."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gravel in Medicine


  1. Sandlike concretions of uric acid, calcium oxalate, and mineral salts formed in the passages of the biliary and urinary tracts.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.