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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for shovel

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Two groups were gathered around the golden shovels for the event on a cold, crisp but bright and sunny Monday. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "Brunswick Area Historical Society breaks ground for ‘Old School’ new building: Photos," 26 Nov. 2019 Fifth in shovel-ready sites program, and competitive labor market. William Thornton |, al, "Alabama ranks fourth in ‘Top States for Business’ survey," 11 Sep. 2019 In lieu of using shovels to dig ceremonial clumps of ground, Lewis and others hung paper leaves on a metal elm tree sculpted by UMB’s provost. Childs Walker,, "‘How can we affect people?’ Ravens great Ray Lewis spreads message of grass-roots engagement at UMB groundbreaking," 24 Oct. 2019 An Edgewood woman called police at about 1:50 p.m. Oct. 20 after her neighbor used a shovel to dump leaves over a fence and onto her property. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Man steals money from Burger King cash register; curious art students break into vacant, condemned building: Berea police blotter," 24 Oct. 2019 With each passing year with no shovel in the ground, no solid stadium plan, that seems more and more unlikely. Ann Killion,, "A’s wake up from recurring October nightmare selling the future, again," 3 Oct. 2019 Hoover firefighters and police responded to the scene at 3:04 p.m. Hoover firefighters, later joined by Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service, used shovels to dig their way to the victims. Carol Robinson |, al, "Workers killed in Hoover trench collapse were ‘vivacious, honest, extremely loyal’," 26 July 2019 With silver shovels in sand, city figureheads, business owners and state officials celebrated the groundbreaking on Wednesday for a 12-million-cubic-foot refrigerated container facility. Lily Jackson |,, "Alabama port business heats up as massive container refrigerator comes in," 24 July 2019 Groups of protesters—some wearing yellow vests, others not—used shovels to smash storefronts and car windows along Avenue Kléber, home to some of Paris’s fanciest hotels. Matthew Dalton, WSJ, "Paris Rioting Puts Macron’s Economic Overhaul to the Test," 2 Dec. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One Baker Construction employee reported shoveling wet concrete into buckets for an hour straight. Cameron Knight,, "'Hardest working guy that I know:' Worker killed in building collapse identified," 27 Nov. 2019 All the writers shoveling copy into the maw of the world wide web (including me) should probably take a cue from her. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "In Essays One, Lydia Davis Goes Big," 12 Nov. 2019 If the desk lunch is fundamentally sad, then there is surely nothing sadder than shoveling it into your face at a messy desk. Jacob Brogan,, "Go ahead and microwave fish, and other office lunch etiquette you should ignore," 4 Oct. 2019 Last seen shoveling their splintered souls into a Garden dustbin on June 12, the Bruins will open the 2019-20 season Thursday night in Dallas., "Slow walks back are not encouraged in today’s 31-team NHL. Contrary to the St. Louis Blues’ unprecedented turnaround last season, a stunning reversal from midseason chumps to springtime champs, poor starts in October are generally punished by quick and disappointing endings.," 28 Sep. 2019 Quite the opposite: Reality just won’t quit shoveling it at them. al, "Drive-By Truckers bringing new music to Mobile, Decatur," 18 Sep. 2019 However, history shows that just shoveling lots of money into high-cost, high-risk assets tends not to end well. Allan Sloan, Washington Post, "Trump is demanding low or even zero interest rates. But there is a real downside.," 12 Sep. 2019 Outside a baseball field in Mid-City, among the neighborhoods most consistently inundated by flooding during heavy rains in recent years, volunteers with a neighborhood bar shoveled sand into bags and handed them out. New York Times, "Katrina on Its Mind, New Orleans Keeps an Anxious Eye on Tropical Storm Barry," 12 July 2019 The Democratic presidential aspirants are having a cash-giveaway arms race, coming up with creative ways to shovel public funds into the pockets of likely primary voters. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 11 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shovel

Time Traveler for shovel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for shovel

Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Shovel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


the study of flags

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!