• synonyms


[trou-uh l]
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  1. any of various tools having a flat blade with a handle, used for depositing and working mortar, plaster, etc.
  2. a similar tool with a curved, scooplike blade, used in gardening for taking up plants, turning up earth, etc.
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verb (used with object), trow·eled, trow·el·ing or (especially British) trow·elled, trow·el·ling.
  1. to apply, shape, smooth, or dig with or as if with a trowel.
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Origin of trowel

1300–50; Middle English < Old French truelle < Late Latin truella, equivalent to Latin tru(a) ladle + -ella -elle
Related formstrow·el·er; especially British, trow·el·ler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


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.


    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.


    Clara Louise Burnham

  • He gallantly offered the trowel to Maria Clara, but she refused, with a smile.

British Dictionary definitions for trowel


  1. any of various small hand tools having a flat metal blade attached to a handle, used for scooping or spreading plaster or similar materials
  2. a similar tool with a curved blade used by gardeners for lifting plants, etc
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verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled
  1. (tr) to use a trowel on (plaster, soil, etc)
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Derived Formstroweller or 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with trowel


see under lay it on thick.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.