• synonyms


[shuhv-uh l]
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  1. an implement consisting of a broad blade or scoop attached to a long handle, used for taking up, removing, or throwing loose matter, as earth, snow, or coal.
  2. any fairly large contrivance or machine with a broad blade or scoop for taking up or removing loose matter: a steam shovel.
  3. a shovelful.
  4. Informal. shovel hat.
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verb (used with object), shov·eled, shov·el·ing or (especially British) shov·elled, shov·el·ling.
  1. to take up and cast or remove with a shovel: to shovel coal.
  2. to gather up in large quantity roughly or carelessly with or as if with a shovel: He shoveled food into his mouth.
  3. to dig or clear with or as if with a shovel: to shovel a path through the snow.
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verb (used without object), shov·eled, shov·el·ing or (especially British) shov·elled, shov·el·ling.
  1. to work with a shovel.
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Origin of shovel

before 900; Middle English schovel, Old English scofl; cognate with Dutch schoffel hoe; akin to German Schaufel shovel
Related formsun·shov·eled, adjectiveun·shov·elled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for shovel

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • So he set to work with pick and shovel all the rest of that day.

    Johnny Bear

    E. T. Seton

  • It was Brother Paul coming up with a spade to shovel away the snow.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • How delicious is flattery, even when thrown down one's throat with a shovel!

    An Old Sailor's Yarns

    Nathaniel Ames

  • In a trembling voice she asked me if I would please find a shovel.

  • I did not offer to go and fetch up my shovel, which was left down below.


    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for shovel


  1. an instrument for lifting or scooping loose material, such as earth, coal, etc, consisting of a curved blade or a scoop attached to a handle
  2. any machine or part resembling a shovel in action
  3. Also called: shovelful the amount that can be contained in a shovel
  4. short for shovel hat
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verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled
  1. to lift (earth, etc) with a shovel
  2. (tr) to clear or dig (a path) with or as if with a shovel
  3. (tr) to gather, load, or unload in a hurried or careless wayhe shovelled the food into his mouth and rushed away
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Derived Formsshoveller or US shoveler, noun

Word Origin

Old English scofl; related to Old High German scūfla shovel, Dutch schoffel hoe; see shove
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 shovel


Old English scofl, sceofol "shovel," related to scufan (see shove (v.)), from Proto-Germanic *skublo (cf. Old Saxon skufla, Swedish skovel, Middle Low German schufle, Middle Dutch shuffel, Dutch schoffel, Old High German scuvala, German Schaufel). Shovel-ready, with reference to construction projects, is attested by 2006.

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mid-15c., from shovel (n.). Related: Shoveled; shoveling. Cf. German schaufeln, verb from noun.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper