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[skoul] /skaʊl/
verb (used without object)
to draw down or contract the brows in a sullen, displeased, or angry manner.
to have a gloomy or threatening look.
verb (used with object)
to affect or express with a scowl.
a scowling expression, look, or aspect.
Origin of scowl
1300-50; Middle English scoulen (v.); perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Danish skule to scowl, Norwegian skule to look furtively, though these may be < Low German schūlen to spy
Related forms
scowler, noun
scowlful, adjective
scowlingly, adverb
unscowling, adjective
unscowlingly, adverb
1. frown, lower, glare. 2. glower, gloom. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for scowl
  • And that scowl perfectly contrasts with his super-cutesy heart-shaped nose.
  • The howl of the wolf brought not the expression of wonder, but a scowl of disappointment or anger.
  • He's not tall, he has a slightly comical face and a tendency to scowl, and his hair is often unruly.
  • The biggest part of his acting responsibilities involves maintaining that scowl and pretending not to enjoy it.
  • Toward the end, she produces one sulky scowl that makes you grateful for a new facial expression.
  • Lately, that scowl hasn't left when he leaves the court.
  • The films' tone varied: they could teach with a smile, a scowl or a sneer.
  • And this scowl, to look more convincing, it is supported with a map.
British Dictionary definitions for scowl


(intransitive) to contract the brows in a threatening or angry manner
a gloomy or threatening expression
Word Origin
C14: probably from Scandinavian; compare Danish skule to look down, Old English scūlēgede squint-eyed
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
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Word Origin and History for scowl

mid-14c., from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian skule "look furtively, squint, look embarrassed," Danish skule "to scowl, cast down the eyes"). Probably related to Old English sceolh "wry, oblique," Old High German scelah "curved," German scheel "squint-eyed;" from PIE root *sqel- "crooked, curved, bent." Related: Scowled; scowling.


c.1500, from scowl (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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