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shov·​el ˈshə-vəl How to pronounce shovel (audio)
: 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
: something that resembles a shovel
: an excavating machine
especially : a hydraulic diesel-engine driven power shovel


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shoveled or shovelled; shoveling or shovelling ˈshə-və-liŋ How to pronounce shovel (audio)

transitive verb

: to take up and throw with a shovel
: to dig or clean out with a shovel
: 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Years ago, when kids built little ramps at the side of a ski run, ski patrollers would demolish them with shovels and threaten to confiscate their lift tickets. Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 7 Apr. 2024 And the best way to clear a driveway piled with snow is to hire some neighborhood ragamuffins with snow shovels, pay them some cash, and give them a belt of hot chocolate. Steven Levy, WIRED, 5 Apr. 2024 When they were finished, many of the stevedores drove home along Interstate 695, crossing the Patapsco River on the Key Bridge and skirting past another crew of workingmen — this one laboring on the road with shovels in the glare of floodlights. William Wan, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2024 Into the earth the shovels go, and out spring various Etruscan artifacts, mostly pottery, that were entombed, roughly two millennia ago, alongside their deceased owners. Justin Chang, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2024 So, grab a shovel (and an onion) and dig into the whereabouts of our favorite D-Tent dudes (and the grown-ups, too) in the years since the Holes cast first came together. Debby Wolfinsohn,, 28 Mar. 2024 As all the contestants — minus Barbell — dashed through the jungle, Addis saw a flag marked with the No. 13 and a shovel next to it. Journal Sentinel, 26 Mar. 2024 Years ago, when kids built little ramps at the side of a ski run, ski patrollers would demolish them with shovels and threaten to confiscate the kids’ lift tickets. Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2024 Residents are limited to 200 gallons of compost or mulch per visit and must provide proof of residency and bring their own shovel and container. Anne Gelhaus, The Mercury News, 17 Mar. 2024
Webb returned to the same formula in the seventh to escape his thorniest jam, generating back-to-back ground balls — one that Nick Ahmed shoveled for a force out at second and another picked by Chapman — after allowing the first two batters of the inning to reach base. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 7 Apr. 2024 Guard Kayla Padilla extended the run by knocking down a three on USC’s first possession of the fourth quarter and then Watkins provided the knockout punch by shoveling a no-look pass to Kaitlyn Davis for a layup with 6:12 remaining to put the Trojans up by 14. Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2024 With four pointed teeth made of stainless steel and a non-stick finish, this ergonomic manual weeder gets into tight spaces, uprooting, digging, and shoveling with precision. Stephanie Osmanski, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Mar. 2024 Add in the need for brief bouts of strenuous exertion in the cold — experts say there’s strong evidence that activities like shoveling snow can trigger heart attacks and other heart issues, for example — and winter can be a recipe for disaster. Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 Particularly during the winter months, when much of the country is shoveling snow and scraping ice, the best things to do in Florida incorporate clear blue skies, wide and welcoming beaches, and a steady drip of Vitamin D that packs a powerful endorphin punch. Terry Ward, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Feb. 2024 The snow piled up so thickly on rooftops that when another storm threatened more snow and rain, residents had to scramble to shovel off enough weight to keep their roofs from caving in. Megan Michelson, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2024 On an early December afternoon, a two-man crew pulled up to small potholes on neighborhood streets, jack-hammering out the holes and shoveling in hot asphalt. Emily Brindley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 22 Feb. 2024 In suburban Virginia, Mark Hyatt, 47, went for a 3-mile run before shoveling out two cars and the steps to his Arlington home. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shovel.' 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, from Old English scofl; akin to Old High German scūfla shovel, Old English scūfan to thrust away

First Known Use


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


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near shovel

Cite this Entry

“Shovel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
shov·​el ˈshəv-əl How to pronounce shovel (audio)
: a broad scoop with a handle used for lifting and throwing loose material (as dirt or snow)


2 of 2 verb
shoveled or shovelled; shoveling or shovelling
: to lift and throw with a shovel
shovel snow
: to dig or clean out with a shovel
shovel out the sheep pens
: to throw or carry roughly or in a mass as if with a shovel
stop shoveling the food into your mouth

More from Merriam-Webster on shovel

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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