a pointed instrument for piercing small holes in leather, wood, etc.

before 900; Middle English al, eal, aul, Old English al, eal, æl; cognate with Old Norse alr; akin to Middle English ēl, Old English ǣl, Old High German āla (German Ahle), Sanskrit ā́rā

1. ale, ail, awl ; 2. all, awl (see usage note at all). Unabridged


absent with leave.
Also, a.w.l. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
awl (ɔːl)
See also bradawl a pointed hand tool with a fluted blade used for piercing wood, leather, etc
[Old English ǣl; related to Old Norse alr, Old High German āla, Dutch aal, Sanskrit ārā]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. æl "awl, piercer," from P.Gmc. *ælo (cf. O.N. alr, Du. aal, M.L.G. al, O.H.G. äla, Ger. Ahle), of uncertain origin. Earliest references are to piercing of the ears, though later it was associated with shoemakers. Through misdivision, frequently written 15c.-17c. as nawl (for an
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
absent with leave
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Awl definition

an instrument only referred to in connection with the custom of boring the ear of a slave (Ex. 21:6; Deut. 15:17), in token of his volunteering perpetual service when he might be free. (Comp. Ps. 40:6; Isa. 50:5).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
Use an awl or screwdriver to probe into decayed areas and determine the extent of the damage.
From a leather pouch he removed his tools, an awl of steel and antler, a block of bone.
With an awl, punch five holes in pumpkin for the laces and pull tab.
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