\ˈȯl \

Definition of awl 

: a pointed tool for marking surfaces or piercing small holes (as in leather or wood)

Illustration of awl

Illustration of awl

Examples of awl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Hold back plate to wall or ceiling and mark screw points with scratch awl or nail through holes. The Editors Of House Beautiful, House Beautiful, "How to Install a Smoke Detector," 12 Feb. 2015 Poke 2 holes in top of pumpkin with awl; insert wire curls. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "65+ of the Most Creative Halloween Pumpkin-Carving Ideas," 14 Sep. 2017 Some of these stone tools were specialized to either be attached to shafts or be thrown as projectiles, while others resemble scrapers and awls. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Discovered: 300,000-Year-Old Tools and Paints That Point to Early Humanity's Cleverness," 15 Mar. 2018 According to news reports, the police discovered body parts from eight women and one man in Mr. Shiraishi’s apartment, along with a saw, ropes and an awl, apparently used to restrain and cut the bodies. Motoko Rich, New York Times, "Suspect in Japan Serial-Killer Case Sought Out Suicidal People," 1 Nov. 2017 Another uses brushes, rock hammers and awls to unearth the jawbone and partial skull of a champsasaur, an alligator-like animal with a thin snout. Mike Sager, Smithsonian, "The Ultimate Summer Camp Activity: Digging for Dinosaurs," 13 Sep. 2017 Guided by evidence from the past, researchers used a stone flake and a bird bone awl to weave rushes into bottles. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Drinking From Ancient Water Bottles Didn’t Hurt Indigenous People—Making Them Did," 29 June 2017 Now use an awl to mark the hole for the dowel rod (C) in the crank arm (B). James Schadewald, Popular Mechanics, "Make Your Own Ice-Cream Maker," 4 Aug. 2017 Find all of the deadly devices - tacks, peach, leech, awl, ennui - and win a (nonfatal) bookmark. Andrea Sachs,, "The Edward Gorey House on Cape Cod is the good kind of ghastly," 21 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'awl.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of awl

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for awl

Middle English al, from Old English æl; akin to Old High German āla awl, Sanskrit ārā

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Time Traveler for awl

The first known use of awl was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for awl



English Language Learners Definition of awl

: a pointed tool that is used for marking surfaces or for making small holes in leather, wood, etc.


\ˈȯl \

Kids Definition of awl

: a pointed tool for making small holes (as in leather or wood)

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More from Merriam-Webster on awl

See words that rhyme with awl

Spanish Central: Translation of awl

Nglish: Translation of awl for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about awl

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What made you want to look up awl? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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