shov·​el | \ ˈshə-vəl How to pronounce shovel (audio) \

Definition of shovel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a hand implement consisting of a broad scoop or a more or less hollowed out blade with a handle used to lift and throw material
b : something that resembles a shovel
c : an excavating machine especially : a hydraulic diesel-engine driven power shovel
2 : shovelful


shoveled or shovelled; shoveling or shovelling\ ˈshə-​və-​liŋ How to pronounce shovelling (audio) , ˈshəv-​liŋ \

Definition of shovel (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to take up and throw with a shovel
2 : to dig or clean out with a shovel
3 : to throw or convey roughly or in a mass as if with a shovel shoveled his food into his mouth

intransitive verb

: to use a shovel

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Synonyms for shovel

Synonyms: Verb

dig, excavate

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Examples of shovel in a Sentence


He is outside shoveling snow. I have to shovel the driveway. I had to shovel for an hour to clear the driveway. The snow was so deep we had to shovel a path to our front door. Stop shoveling food into your mouth.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Once shovels hit the ground, TIRZ consultant Ralph De Leon estimates this segment may be a 24- to 36-month construction project. Melanie Feuk, Houston Chronicle, "Northpark Drive expansion estimate grows to nearly $86 million," 29 June 2018 Before the first shovel hits the ground, Kansas City International Airport's new single terminal is getting bigger. Bill Turque, kansascity, "New KCI will be bigger than planned — but opening likely delayed | The Kansas City Star," 12 Apr. 2018 Though Keynes was famously not concerned about the long run, prosperity in the long run is achieved by commercially tested betterment, not by shovel-ready projects of bridges to nowhere. Deirdre N. Mccloskey, WSJ, "‘Money and Government’ Review: Please Don’t Call It Socialism," 5 Dec. 2018 To go from a regular broom to a push broom is like switching from a snow shovel to a snowplow. Peter Martin, Popular Mechanics, "No One Should Live Without a Push Broom," 12 Nov. 2018 Twenty-man hand crews will use chainsaws, shovels, and a specialized tool called a Pulaski to remove leaves, pine needles, and other sorts of fuel from a stretch of ground to create a barrier around the fire. Jordan Golson, WIRED, "The Sooty, Swirling Logistics of Fighting 2018's First Major Wildfire," 5 July 2018 They had been equipped with sand pails and shovels, goggles and life jackets—all donated by an anti-poverty organization that had organized the trip. Amy Crawford, Smithsonian, "Racism Kept Connecticut’s Beaches White Up Through the 1970s," 2 July 2018 Planters pay for all their own supplies: tent, shovel, sleeping bag, and travel to the remote bushlands where the camps are located. Luc Forsyth, National Geographic, "For Cash and Pride, Replanting Canada's Forests by the Millions," 8 June 2018 With speeches and ceremonial shovels, construction began Wednesday at the site of a closed naval air station on what will be Alameda’s first major market-rate multifamily development in four decades. Kimberly Veklerov, San Francisco Chronicle, "Development begins at Alameda base that used troubled nuclear cleanup contractor," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The result is that many common dieting tips—such as using smaller plates to trick yourself into shoveling in less food and stashing unhealthy snacks in hard-to-reach places—are now on the cutting board and possibly destined for the garbage bin. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Big nutrition research scandal sees 6 more retractions, purging popular diet tips," 20 Sep. 2018 Rather than just shovel whatever the hell in their mouth. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why Sweetgreen thinks like a tech company," 17 Dec. 2018 Next, adviser Keith Urban told the ridiculous story of his first time shoveling snow. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "This Is What ‘The Voice’ Coaches Talk About When They Don’t Know You’re Watching," 23 Oct. 2018 That help can be anything from a ride to the doctor or the grocery store; minor home repairs; mowing a lawn; shoveling snow, or helping out with computers or other tech devices. Joanna Connors,, "Who will shovel mom's walk? 'Virtual villages' help seniors stay independent: Living On," 15 Apr. 2018 But the six power conferences are where 75 teams play and where the bulk of the dirt is being shoveled. Elton Alexander,, "College basketball scandal: NCAA scrambles for answers as FBI probe continues," 28 Feb. 2018 While the East basked in the warmth Wednesday, the West continued to shiver in the cold and shovel mounds of snow. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Extreme warmth shatters records in East, but cooler days are coming," 21 Feb. 2018 For most people, shoveling snow has been the most dreaded part of this long, cold winter. Samantha Toscano, Good Housekeeping, "This Dog Knows How to Lend a Paw When It Snows," 24 Feb. 2015 This 10 second prayer was too long for our toddler, who closed her eyes with one hand and shoveled food into her mouth with the other. Charlotte Hilton Andersen, Redbook, "The Great Mom Debate: How Do You Handle Grace At Thanksgiving?," 21 Nov. 2011

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for shovel


Middle English, from Old English scofl; akin to Old High German scūfla shovel, Old English scūfan to thrust away

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Statistics for shovel

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shovel

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

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More Definitions for shovel



English Language Learners Definition of shovel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a tool with a long handle that is used for lifting and throwing dirt, sand, snow, etc.
: the part of a machine (such as a backhoe) that picks up and moves dirt, sand, snow, etc.



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

: to lift and throw (dirt, sand, snow, etc.) with a shovel
: to remove snow from (a sidewalk, driveway, etc.) with a shovel
: to create (a path) by removing snow with a shovel


shov·​el | \ ˈshə-vəl How to pronounce shovel (audio) \

Kids Definition of shovel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a tool with a long handle and broad scoop used to lift and throw loose material (as dirt or snow)
2 : as much as a shovel will hold a shovel of sand


shoveled or shovelled; shoveling or shovelling

Kids Definition of shovel (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to lift or throw with a shovel shovel snow
2 : to dig or clean out with a shovel I shoveled out the sheep pens.
3 : to move large amounts of into something quickly He shoveled food into his mouth.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shovel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shovel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shovel

Spanish Central: Translation of shovel

Nglish: Translation of shovel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shovel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shovel

Comments on shovel

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


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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