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

Sometimes by hand, sometimes with shovels, sometimes with the help of rope and the torque of a military vehicle. WSJ, "‘No War Is Won’: Benjamin B. Ferencz Continues His Fight for Justice at 98," 20 Feb. 2019 Yet as Neace observed when the Butchertown stadium site was first selected, the simple act of getting a shovel in the ground creates a considerable edge over earnest inaction. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Soccer stadium start signals new possibilities for Possibility City," 28 June 2018 These were men who worked underground, spending weeks or months digging tunnels with shovels underneath the walls of the castle. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "How to Storm a Castle," 11 Apr. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the middle of a blizzard, shoveling snow is a Sisyphean task. Cristela Guerra,, "Snow shoveled downtown? An immigrant probably cleared it," 13 Mar. 2018 Shortly before the race began in the late afternoon, pit crews shoveled nuggets of dry ice directly into the air intakes of the racecars to keep batteries cool. Jack Ewing, New York Times, "Racing Series Helps Show the Way to a Battery-Powered Future," 5 July 2018 The husband did not see anyone drive off in the car, nor did neighbors who were outside shoveling snow. Jeff Piorkowski/special To,, "Woman asks friend for favor, he steals her car: Cleveland Heights police blotter," 19 Jan. 2018 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

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

7 May 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).


something valued as if it were money

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