1 of 3

noun (1)

: a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task
: the cutting or shaping part in a machine or machine tool
: a machine for shaping metal : machine tool
: something (such as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession
a scholar's books are his tools
: an element of a computer program (such as a graphics application) that activates and controls a particular function
a drawing tool
: a means to an end
a book's cover can be a marketing tool
slang, vulgar : penis
: one who is used or manipulated by another
And then there was former trainer Pfeil, viewed as another tool of management for his gruff ways.Sam Smith
informal : a foolish or unlikable person : jerk
Before you compete on a reality TV show, you basically sign away your right to protect yourself from looking like a total tool in front of an international viewing audience.Steve Tilley
tools plural : natural ability
has all the tools to be a great pitcher


2 of 3


tooled; tooling; tools

intransitive verb

: drive, ride
: to equip a plant or industry with the means (such as machines, machine tools, and instruments) of production
often used with up

transitive verb

: to shape, form, or finish with a tool
especially : to letter or ornament (something, such as leather or gold) by means of hand tools
: to cause (a vehicle) to go : drive
: to convey in a vehicle
: to equip (a factory, an industry, etc.) with tools, machines, and instruments for production


3 of 3

noun (2)

: a design (as on the binding of a book) made by tooling
Choose the Right Synonym for tool

implement, tool, instrument, appliance, utensil mean a relatively simple device for performing work.

implement may apply to anything necessary to perform a task.

crude stone implements
farm implements

tool suggests an implement adapted to facilitate a definite kind or stage of work and suggests the need of skill more strongly than implement.

a carpenter's tools

instrument suggests a device capable of delicate or precise work.

the dentist's instruments

appliance refers to a tool or instrument utilizing a power source and suggests portability or temporary attachment.

household appliances

utensil applies to a device used in domestic work or some routine unskilled activity.

kitchen utensils

Examples of tool in a Sentence

Verb We tooled along the highway. He tooled a design on the leather belt. a belt made of tooled leather
Recent Examples on the Web
While some may enjoy tooling around in their townhome’s backyard, a penthouse terrace requires the attention of professionals. Curbed, 13 Sep. 2023 Roughly $3 billion is earmarked for developing the cars and tooling the Martorell plant, while an additional $7 billion will go towards building a new site outside of Valencia that will supply the battery cells. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 4 Sep. 2023 Smaller, wheeled units can roll from tool to tool, but may lack the power to handle your workload. Alex Rennie, Popular Mechanics, 4 Aug. 2023 Once, some kid took a real thick piece of leather and tooled it. Brianne Tracy, Peoplemag, 25 July 2023 As her star continued to rise over the years, Ms. Bumbry was never afraid to inhabit the prima donna role offstage as well as on, outfitting herself in Yves Saint Laurent and Oscar de la Renta and tooling around in a Lamborghini. Alex Williams, New York Times, 8 May 2023 What struck you most about Max while tooling around it today? Josef Adalian, Vulture, 26 May 2023 The article generated over 300 shares on Facebook, according to social media insights tool CrowdTangle. Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY, 30 June 2023 Though his family lived next to a Porsche dealership, a professor’s salary afforded little in the way of 90210 glamour, so Cage took the bus while the football players tooled around in sports cars. Dan Piepenbring, Harper's Magazine, 7 Jan. 2022
The program, one of many run by the independent agency to promote research, awards funding to groups creating tools or techniques to mitigate misinformation, such as software for journalists to identify misinformation trending online. Joseph Menn, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2023 According to the complaint, the FBI obtained a warrant permitting the use of a sophisticated device called a cell-site simulator, which is a surveillance tool that mimics a cell phone tower, causing phones in the vicinity to register with the simulator. Josh Campbell, CNN, 23 Sep. 2023 Border carbon taxes will not solve the problem alone, but will likely be an important tool in reducing carbon emissions. Aaron Navarro, CBS News, 23 Sep. 2023 In decades gone by, many amateur archaeologists and outright looters lifted artifacts from the caves, including ceramics, ornaments and stone tools. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 22 Sep. 2023 Amazon is introducing two tools that allow the new Alexa to control certain unique features of third-party manufacturer products that aren’t necessarily in Amazon’s smart home ecosystem toolkit. Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, The Verge, 21 Sep. 2023 Rhodes joined founder of Advise Sports and Entertainment, Dee Thompson to discuss how athletes are utilizing new financial tools to best advance their interests outside of the game. Jaden Thompson, Variety, 21 Sep. 2023 Now, some new evidence from a cave in Spain shows that early humans may have returned to the burial site to craft tools from the bones and possibly extract marrow, potentially as food. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 21 Sep. 2023 To pilot these new tools, Nalaquq is training locals, most of them young people. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tool.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English tōl; akin to Old English tawian to prepare for use — more at taw

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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


1812, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

Noun (2)

1881, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near tool

Cite this Entry

“Tool.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a device (as a hammer, saw, knife, or wrench) used or worked by hand or by a machine
: something used in doing one's job as if it were a tool
a scholar's books are his tools
: something that helps to gain an end
hard work is a tool for success
: a person used by another : dupe


2 of 2 verb
: to shape, form, or finish with a tool
: to equip a plant or industry with machines and tools for production

More from Merriam-Webster on tool

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