chis·​el | \ ˈchi-zᵊl How to pronounce chisel (audio) \

Definition of chisel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a metal tool with a sharpened edge at one end used to chip, carve, or cut into a solid material (such as wood, stone, or metal)


chiseled or chiselled; chiseling or chiselling\ ˈchi-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce chisel (audio) , ˈchiz-​liŋ \

Definition of chisel (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cut or work with or as if with a chisel
2 : to employ shrewd or unfair practices on in order to obtain one's end also : to obtain by such practices chisel a job

intransitive verb

1 : to work with or as if with a chisel
2a : to employ shrewd or unfair practices
b : to thrust oneself : intrude chisel in on a racket

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Other Words from chisel


chiseler or chiseller \ ˈchi-​zə-​lər How to pronounce chisel (audio) , ˈchiz-​lər \ noun

Examples of chisel in a Sentence

Verb He chiseled off a corner of the block. Letters were chiseled into a wall.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Justin complemented her in a blue suit, white button-up, and black chisel-toe boots. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Justin and Hailey Bieber Try Out a New Date Night Look," 19 Apr. 2021 Ancient people typically carved petroglyphs into boulders with a stone chisel and a hammerstone. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Vandals Deface ‘Irreplaceable’ Native American Rock Carvings in Georgia," 9 Apr. 2021 Its shop in London’s Royal Arcade, a brogue’s throw from Savile Row, is known for the kind of elegant, chisel-toed styles that are the footwear equivalent of an Anderson & Sheppard suit. Kareem Rashed, Robb Report, "How British Bespoke Shoemaker George Cleverley Thrived During a Year of Flip-Flops and Sneakers," 29 Mar. 2021 Dugan says the best way to check the safety of the ice is to have an ice chisel with you while moving across the ice. Peter Warren, Star Tribune, "How safe is it, really, to walk on Minnesota's iced-over lakes?," 12 Mar. 2021 Other times, the forgetting feels like someone is taking a chisel to the bedrock of my brain, prying everything loose. Ellen Cushing, The Atlantic, "Pandemic Fog Is Real," 8 Mar. 2021 Stick to the basics and get a toolbox that includes a good utility knife or rotary cutter, a diamond chisel, a scratch awl, needles, and thread. Sandra Gutierrez G., Popular Science, "Everything you need to know to start leatherworking," 19 Feb. 2021 His main tools are a chain saw, a cutting bit, a chisel, a sander, a special ice bit with nubs for shaping, a brush, a big hand saw and a pickle fork with teeth to chip away at the ice. Alicia Eler, Star Tribune, "An icy surprise awaits art lovers in Minneapolis parks," 18 Feb. 2021 The dawn of a new year is when many of us scramble to make resolutions, and in the U.S., these are often earnest pledges to shrink, tone, chisel or otherwise alter our bodies. Jessica Teich, Good Housekeeping, "The Unbearable Weight of Diet Culture," 23 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb We are not taught how to chisel that plaque off our beings. Washington Post, "With a verdict, troubled reflections," 21 Apr. 2021 And sometimes, at least on Earth, living things chisel inanimate things. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "Perseverance’s giant ‘hand lens’ will scour Mars for signs of ancient life," 8 Mar. 2021 In the coming years, Griffin would continue to chisel away at banks’ market-making business as tighter bank regulations, such as stringent margin and capital rules, raised costs for banks and gave an advantage to outsiders. Roya Wolverson, Quartz, "How Ken Griffin’s Citadel transformed financial markets," 18 Feb. 2021 After a yearlong delay because of the pandemic, the World Monuments Fund team is back in Babylon, deciding how best to address the damage in places where trying to chisel out the concrete could do still more harm. New York Times, "In Beleaguered Babylon, Doing Battle Against Time, Water and Modern Civilization," 6 Feb. 2021 The refusal to agree upon the facts of the election threatens to undermine voter confidence, chisel away at the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency and restack civic norms in still-unknowable ways. The Associated Press,, "President-elect? GOP may wait for January to say Joe Biden won," 9 Dec. 2020 Lackluster play in the final weeks, however, would chisel away at any margin for error the Buckeyes have left. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Three ways Ohio State football can win the way it needs to at Michigan State: Buckeye Take," 4 Dec. 2020 These birds chisel small cavities in posts and trees, power poles a frequent choice. Jim Williams, Star Tribune, "Blue jays cache food for the winter ‑ and remember where they put it," 24 Nov. 2020 Pare by hand to smooth the walls of the mortise and use a mallet to chisel the ends of the mortise square [8]. Neal Barrett, Popular Mechanics, "Make a Kitchen Table That Will Last Generations," 14 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chisel.' 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 chisel


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1509, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for chisel


Middle English, from Anglo-French *chisel, cisel, from Vulgar Latin *cisellum, alteration of caesellum, from Latin caesus, past participle of caedere to cut

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Time Traveler for chisel

Time Traveler

The first known use of chisel was in the 14th century

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Statistics for chisel

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chisel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for chisel



English Language Learners Definition of chisel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a metal tool with a flat, sharp end that is used to cut and shape a solid material (such as stone, wood, or metal)



English Language Learners Definition of chisel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut or shape (something) with a chisel


chis·​el | \ ˈchi-zəl How to pronounce chisel (audio) \

Kids Definition of chisel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a metal tool with a sharp edge at the end of a usually flat piece used to chip away stone, wood, or metal


chiseled or chiselled; chiseling or chiselling

Kids Definition of chisel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut, shape, or carve with a chisel A name was chiseled into stone.


chis·​el | \ ˈchiz-əl How to pronounce chisel (audio) \

Medical Definition of chisel

: a metal tool with a cutting edge at the end of a blade especially : one used in dentistry (as for cutting or shaping enamel)

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