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[shuhv-uh l] /ˈʃʌv əl/
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.
any fairly large contrivance or machine with a broad blade or scoop for taking up or removing loose matter:
a steam shovel.
Informal. shovel hat.
verb (used with object), shoveled, shoveling or (especially British) shovelled, shovelling.
to take up and cast or remove with a shovel:
to shovel coal.
to gather up in large quantity roughly or carelessly with or as if with a shovel:
He shoveled food into his mouth.
to dig or clear with or as if with a shovel:
to shovel a path through the snow.
verb (used without object), shoveled, shoveling or (especially British) shovelled, shovelling.
to work with a shovel.
Origin of shovel
before 900; Middle English schovel, Old English scofl; cognate with Dutch schoffel hoe; akin to German Schaufel shovel
Related forms
unshoveled, adjective
unshovelled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for shovel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • So you and Jan will have to do most of the digging, though I can shovel away the dirt.

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

    Johnny Bear E. T. Seton
  • Some carried packs on their backs, with pick and shovel, drill and pan.

    The Lake of the Sky George Wharton James
  • In a trembling voice she asked me if I would please find a shovel.

  • There do they pick and shovel; or bend forward, yoked in long strings to box-barrow or overloaded tumbril; joyous, with one mind.

    The French Revolution Thomas Carlyle
British Dictionary definitions for shovel


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
any machine or part resembling a shovel in action
Also called shovelful. the amount that can be contained in a shovel
short for shovel hat
verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to lift (earth, etc) with a shovel
(transitive) to clear or dig (a path) with or as if with a shovel
(transitive) to gather, load, or unload in a hurried or careless way: he shovelled the food into his mouth and rushed away
Derived Forms
shoveller, (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
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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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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