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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Trowel \Trow"el\, n. [OE. truel, OF. truele, F. truelle, LL. truella, L. trulla, dim. of trua a ladle; probably akin to Gr. ? a stirrer, ladle, G. quirl a stirrer, MHG. twirel, OHG. dwiril, Icel. [thorn]vara, AS. [thorn]wiril. Cf. Twirl.]

  1. A mason's tool, used in spreading and dressing mortar, and breaking bricks to shape them.

  2. A gardener's tool, somewhat like a scoop, used in taking up plants, stirring the earth, etc.

  3. (Founding) A tool used for smoothing a mold.

    Trowel bayonet. See Spade bayonet, under Spade.

    Fish trowel. See Fish slice, under Fish.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

mid-14c., "tool for spreading plaster or mortar," from Old French truele "trowel" (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.


n. 1 A mason’s tool, used in spreading and dressing mortar, and breaking bricks to shape them. 2 A gardener’s tool, shaped like a scoop, used in taking up plants, stirring soil etc. 3 A tool used for smoothing a mold. vb. 1 (context transitive English) To apply a substance with a trowel. 2 (rfdef: English)

  1. n. a small hand tool with a handle and flat metal blade; used for scooping or spreading plaster or similar materials

  2. v. use a trowel on; for light garden work or plaster work

  3. [also: trowelling, trowelled]


A trowel is one of several similar hand tools used for digging, smoothing, or otherwise moving around small amounts of viscous or particulate material.

Trowel (journal)

Trowel is an academic journal published by postgraduate students at the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland.

It was first published in 1988. The journal was redesigned and relaunched for Volume X 2005 after a five-year hiatus in publication. This involved a change from an A4 black and white format to an A5 full colour volume. New sections added included a 'reflections' section, featuring contributions from prominent members of Irish society on their experiences of archaeology, and a book reviews section.

Volume XI included contributions from post-graduate students from NUI Galway and University College Cork making Trowel one of only four national academic journals in Ireland focusing on the publication of articles relating to archaeology. Others include the Journal of Irish Archaeology (published by the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland), the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, and Section C of the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy.

Usage examples of "trowel".

Judith MacDonald, Susan Hunt and her sister Holly, the Boise gang, and many others, for their thoughtful gifts of wine, drawings, rosaries, chocolate, Celtic music, soap, statuary, pressed heather from Culloden, handkerchiefs with echidnas, Maori pens, English teas, garden trowels, and other miscellanea meant to boost my spirits and keep me writing far past the point of exhaustion.

It shimmered along the old troweled plasterwork and glistened between the tiny network of cracks on the leather upholstery.

He pointed his trowel toward the west, through a small break in the trees, where the polyhedron mist was visible.

He pointed his trowel in the direction of the polyhedron mist, just visible through the break in the trees.

She found a trowel and a small stoot and spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon weeding.

As he paused before taking another trowel of mortar, he took in the short stretch of paving stones that extended from the west end of the unfinished structure toward the causeway before the tower.

Gently Vinny eased the trowel tip into the soil and levered the first crumb of clay free.

They were finishing up for the day, gathering up their tools, tossing trowels and kneepads into their buckets, spades and rakes into the wheelbarrows for the trek back to the trailer.

Our knives, a few sundries, such as a compass, matches, a pocket filter, tobacco, a trowel, a bottle of brandy, and the clothes we stood in.

I gestured with my trowel to the far side of the posthole, now in shadow.

Inside was a road map, a couple of trowels, and several spare D batteries, the kind used in heavy flashlights and metal detectors.

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose.

Connor knelt in front of her, gingerly unclamping her fingers from the trowel handle and placing the weapon out of reach.

At hand was a tubful of plaster, a trowel, and ladder which I thought long enough for my purpose.

He picked up a brick, holding it upright while he applied a thick layer of mortar to one end with a trowel, beveling the soft cement as if it were a gritty gray cheese.