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

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 Use a shovel to disconnect suckers that sprout from the roots throughout the growing season; replant or share them with friends. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Fresh Figs Right in Your Backyard," 15 Aug. 2018 The first shovels are expected to hit the ground early 2019. Michael Candelaria,, "Sanford Neighborhood Guide," 21 June 2018 Don’t rush; just gently pull back on the shovel to loosen the earth. Daniel Bortz, sacbee, "Four home-improvement jobs you can knock out," 15 June 2018 The ceremonial shovels that lifted dirt Monday in Gary for Goodwill Industries of Michiana’s $8 million charter school and Goodwill outlet store marked the organization’s first campus project in Indiana, said Debie M. Coble, its president and CEO. Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune, "Gary Excel Center, Goodwill outlet eye April opening," 4 June 2018 Near the site where the father's remains were recovered, a police dive team found a shovel in a small pond about 20 feet from shore. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Duct tape, cleaning supplies bought with murdered judge's credit card," 12 Apr. 2018 No local government approval is needed to put a shovel in the ground. Jason Williams,, "PX column: John Cranley tries to keep West End stadium hopes alive amid City Hall chaos," 22 Mar. 2018 Schill only had a shovel at the time and was faced with a new and bigger driveway. Lisa Marie Segarra, Time, "This Man Made a Snow Plow Using His Lawn Mower and a Cardboard Box," 6 Jan. 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

21 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

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