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

Coal mine operator Perry Markley designed and built the shovel in the early 1900s using junkyard parts. USA TODAY, "Pride pickup, sphinx on move, Tony Stark’s cabin: News from around our 50 states," 13 June 2019 The first course was financed by founding members, dozens of whom paid $50,000 before the first shovel of dirt was turned. Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: How Sand Valley Golf Resort is transforming central Wisconsin," 30 June 2018 Several men wrestled the spoon into the shovel of the frontloader, and it was then hoisted up, placed onto the back of a truck and driven away. Colin Moynihan, New York Times, "Large-Scale Art Protest Outside OxyContin Maker Ends in Arrest," 22 June 2018 The shovels on the walls will remain, but the atmosphere will be somewhat brighter. Michael Klein,, "Six Feet Under near Washington Square is closed for a reboot into Sedition," 15 June 2018 But this time the engraved shovels weren’t flinging dirt for a new tech company headquarters. J.k. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, "Groundbreaking for SF hotel marks milestone for Mission Bay," 31 Mar. 2018 Before the April incident, Alvarado was arrested in February 2018 and charged with breaking the front door with a shovel. Michele Petry, House Beautiful, "Taylor Swift's Manhattan Townhouse Has Been Broken Into—Again," 7 Mar. 2019 Just be sure to stir the mixture every few days with a rake or a shovel—this will enable it to aerate and fully decompose faster. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "How to Start Composting," 8 Jan. 2019 Two months prior to that, the AP notes that he was arrested at her home for using a shovel to get in the door. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift's Home Was Burglarized Days After She Talked About Her Fear of Stalkers Breaking Into Her House," 7 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bob’s dad quit shoveling coal to become a janitor at Purdue. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Is this the last living man to play with Dick the Bruiser, and against Carl Erskine?," 11 July 2019 When Schuler first started, in-game snow removal involved shoveling at the goalmouth and in front of the benches; now, the crew clears the entire sheet. Julia Stumbaugh, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes arena technician's cool job: maintaining ice in the desert," 10 July 2019 Cheer on the young drivers (ages 9–16), then, after the town’s parade, head over to Brewery Gulch to watch traditional mining contests like mucking (shoveling broken rock into a bucket) and hard-rock drilling. National Geographic, "Here’s where to spend an unforgettable 4th of July," 1 July 2019 But the idea has cross-ideological appeal—both to libertarians who think the government does least harm by shovelling cash to people, and to bleeding hearts concerned with the plight of the poor and downtrodden. The Economist, "Andrew Yang, prophet of doom," 21 June 2019 Under public pressure to prevent a recurrence, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 and shoveled more than $3 billion to the states, most of it to buy new voting equipment. Greg Gordon, kansascity, "Voting machines in 14 states — including Kansas — are highly vulnerable | The Kansas City Star," 3 Apr. 2018 Flanders Woods combines the best of condominium living -- freedom from mowing, trimming hedges, fertilizing, weeding, shoveling and plowing -- with the enjoyment of owning a freestanding home in a suburban, country setting., "Property of the Week: Flanders Woods," 20 June 2019 Meanwhile back in Sanjoor, Mangal continues with his daily chores, diligently shoveling soil alongside his father in the winter chill. Edward Kiernan, CNN, "They wanted a son so much they made their daughter live as a boy," 18 June 2019 Whatever happened to the old-school kids that used to cut the elderly people’s grass, who used to shovel the snow out of their driveway, out of their sidewalks. Chicago Tribune, Lake County News-Sun, "Talk of the County: Hearing FDR's words coming out of Trump's 'vulgar and crass mouth' cut like a knife," 10 June 2019

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

2 Jul 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

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characterized by aphorism

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