: 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 Make cuts with an awl or another pointed tool, then insert the stems. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 4 Sep. 2023 When driving screws horizontally, try the dagger grip, a common hand hold used on screwdrivers, chisels, awls, and nut drivers. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 29 June 2023 Northern China had blade tools from 40,000 years ago, bone awls from 35,000 years ago and eyed needles from 30,000 years ago. Ian Gilligan, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Apr. 2023 Use an awl, a Sharpie pen or a small triangular file to make a mark in the center of the vise’s jaws. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 26 Apr. 2023 Archaeologists find blade tools in the Caucasus from 300,000 years ago, and blades and awls were made in Southern Africa during a very cold phase 75,000 years ago. Ian Gilligan, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Apr. 2023 To make: Use an awl to poke holes in ends of papier-mâché eggs, then paint eggs white, robin’s-egg blue, and turquoise with acrylic paint. Anna Logan, Country Living, 7 Apr. 2023 Included in the set are four different types of felting needles, wool yarn, key chain attachments, phone lanyards, a felting pad, an awl, jump ring openers, and screw eyes. Talia Abbas, Glamour, 28 Mar. 2023 Clamp a bolt, an awl (shown here), or a large nail in a vise to suspend a mower blade to check its balance. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 17 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'awl.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near awl

Cite this Entry

“Awl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awl. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

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