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[trou-uh l] /ˈtraʊ əl/
any of various tools having a flat blade with a handle, used for depositing and working mortar, plaster, etc.
a similar tool with a curved, scooplike blade, used in gardening for taking up plants, turning up earth, etc.
verb (used with object), troweled, troweling or (especially British) trowelled, trowelling.
to apply, shape, smooth, or dig with or as if with a trowel.
Origin of trowel
1300-50; Middle English < Old French truelle < Late Latin truella, equivalent to Latin tru(a) ladle + -ella -elle
Related forms
troweler; especially British, troweller, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for trowel
  • Use the garden trowel to scoop the stucco from the bucket and deposit it on the cement trowel.
  • Use a hand trowel to break up any clumps and dig into the center of the compost to check for a good moisture level.
  • Suddenly, a paint-splattered worker picking at a nearby wall shouts, waves his steel trowel and points.
  • You're out in the garden and you forgot to bring your trowel with you.
  • Grab your trowel and park it in the museum of garden artifacts.
  • For filling joints, use a small mason's trowel called a pointing trowel and a long, narrow tool called a margin trowel.
  • Turn the compost pile every few days, using a small shovel or large trowel.
  • Sadly, the little trowel was discontinued last year, though holdovers remain on some shelves.
  • After the first coat hardens approximately one hour, the surface is scratched with the edge of the trowel to roughen it.
  • Actually, there is a relatively easy way built a beautiful walkway without having to mix concrete or trowel mortar.
British Dictionary definitions for trowel


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with trowel


see under lay it on thick
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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