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.

1300–50; Middle English < Old French truelle < Late Latin truella, equivalent to Latin tru(a) ladle + -ella -elle

troweler; especially British, troweller, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
trowel (ˈtraʊəl)
1.  any of various small hand tools having a flat metal blade attached to a handle, used for scooping or spreading plaster or similar materials
2.  a similar tool with a curved blade used by gardeners for lifting plants, etc
vb , -els, -elling, -elled, -els, -eling, -eled
3.  (tr) to use a trowel on (plaster, soil, etc)
[C14: from Old French truele, from Latin trulla a scoop, from trua a stirring spoon]

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

1344, "tool for spreading plaster or mortar," from O.Fr. truele (13c.), from L.L. truella "small ladle, dipper" (1163), dim. of L. trua "a stirring spoon, ladle, skimmer." The gardening tool was so called since 1796.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see under lay it on thick.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
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.
Related Words
Idioms & Phrases
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