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


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

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Examples of shovel in a Sentence

Verb 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 The high-carbon steel device is a tactical knife, an axe, a shovel, an emergency whistle, and more. Popular Science, "Four must-have tools for any truck owner," 15 June 2020 It was awarded the 2027 PGA Championship before the first shovel of dirt was turned. Mark Kazlowski, Dallas News, "An inside look at the progress of PGA Frisco — the biggest public golf course project North Texas has ever seen," 5 June 2020 When the last shovel of dirt was tossed, a heap among the rows of vacant graves waiting to be filled, Manoel’s youngest son, Rodrigo Manoel da Silva, dropped his chin to his chest. Gui Christ, National Geographic, "As coronavirus sweeps Brazil, families only have 10 minutes to say goodbye," 3 June 2020 Then plunge the blades of your shovels and hoes into the sand, et voila! Heather Arndt Anderson, Sunset Magazine, "Clear Decks, Fresh Mulch, Can’t Lose: Our Garden Spring Cleaning Guide," 10 Mar. 2020 Now, in this story the donkey struggles to get out and with each shovel of dirt thrown into the well the donkey shakes it off and inches a little higher toward freedom. Francisca Ortega, Houston Chronicle, "Santa Fe High School valedictorian gives a touching speech everyone should hear," 1 June 2018 If there are perennials tougher than turf grass or any woody weeds, use a spading fork or shovel and remove them carefully, which is easiest in moist soil. Margaret Roach, New York Times, "The Easier Way to Make a Garden Bed," 24 Apr. 2020 An aluminum shovel and an umbrella have the same April 21 delivery date. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Some Amazon Prime deliveries may take a month as demand surges," 23 Mar. 2020 Some people were at home, trying to defend their homes with rakes and shovels and garden hoses. Amanda Schaffer, The New Yorker, "The Firefighter Whose Denunciation of Australia’s Prime Minister Made Him a Folk Hero," 18 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Around 100 beta-testers have taken advantage of the protests this week to shovel more food into VizPol’s machine-learning algorithm. The Economist, "Supremacist safari A birdwatchers’ app inspires a field-guide to protesters’ symbols," 13 June 2020 Kole had help from her two sons, her brother and even a stranger — a man whose family lives in the area and who offered to shovel away the thick layer of mud from her driveway. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Midland floods in midst of pandemic leave residents shell-shocked," 20 May 2020 Then came the soil in a big pungent pile, demanding to be shoveled. Ronda Kaysen, New York Times, "How to Grow a Victory Garden of Any Size," 8 May 2020 But residents have complained that visitors have been trying to ride sleds on their property or trespassing to shovel snow into their pickups. Kailyn Brown, Los Angeles Times, "Riverside County reports largest single-day jump in COVID-19 cases on Easter Sunday," 13 Apr. 2020 But officials are having to shovel out cash as fast as possible, to support workers losing their jobs as well as enterprises that are rapidly running out of money. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "The British government is borrowing directly from the Bank of England," 9 Apr. 2020 Those willing and able to shovel away the snow will be compensated $12 per hour for their work, according to the Packers website, with payments made immediately after. Benjamin Vanhoose,, "Green Bay Packers Need 700 Volunteers to Shovel Snow from Stadium Before Game," 10 Jan. 2020 Congress last month vastly increased its workload by making the agency responsible for shovelling out $350 billion in loans to millions of small businesses... The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Congress’s Small-Business Ventilator," 6 Apr. 2020 In the City of Milwaukee between October and January, 440 properties have been fined for not shoveling the sidewalks. Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Make sure your sidewalk is clear. Hundreds of your neighbors have already been fined this winter.," 10 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for shovel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shovel

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shovel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for shovel


How to pronounce shovel (audio)

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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