a square, triangular, or oblong piece of wool or other material worn, especially by women, about the shoulders, or the head and shoulders, in place of a coat or hat outdoors, and indoors as protection against chill or dampness.

Origin of shawl

First recorded in 1655–65, shawl is from the Persian word shāl
Related formsshawl·less, adjectiveshawl·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for shawl

cloth, stole, scarf, mantle, cape, manta, tallith, fichu, serape, maud

Examples from the Web for shawl

Contemporary Examples of shawl

Historical Examples of shawl

  • "Robin, you might get me my shawl;" and Robin would go and get the shawl and put it round her.

  • When that was done she made a bundle of her cloak and shawl, and lay down in her clothes.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Mrs. Rosenfeld was standing in the lower hall, a shawl about her shoulders.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • I shall wrap myself in a shawl, which will hide a portion of my face.

  • The girl's face flushed, and she began to fumble the shawl nervously with her fingers.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

British Dictionary definitions for shawl



a piece of fabric or knitted or crocheted material worn around the shoulders by women or wrapped around a baby

Word Origin for shawl

C17: from Persian shāl
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 shawl

1660s, originally of a type of scarf worn in Asia, from Urdu and other Indian languages, from Persian shal, sometimes said to be named for Shaliat, town in India where it was first manufactured [Klein]. Cf. French châle, Spanish chal, Italian scialle, German Shawl (from English), Russian shal, all ultimately from the same source. As the name of an article of clothing worn by Western women, it is recorded from 1767.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper