tow·​el | \ ˈtau̇(-ə)l How to pronounce towel (audio) \

Definition of towel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an absorbent cloth or paper for wiping or drying


toweled or towelled; toweling or towelling

Definition of towel (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to rub or dry (something, such as the body) with a towel

intransitive verb

: to use a towel to dry oneself toweled down after swimming

Examples of towel in a Sentence

Noun She dried her hair with a towel. Here's a towel to wipe up the spill.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With a towel on her lap and a soft piece of wood in one hand, the elderly but spunky woman whittles until the faces of foxes, bears, cows and blue roosters take form in front of her. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "86-year-old self-taught Kentucky woodcarver is whittling her way into children's books," 18 Sep. 2020 Officers went to the home on California and found Solomon, showing no signs of life, wrapped in a towel and a blanket. Rosemary Sobol,, "March death of West Side infant declared homicide, officials say," 12 Sep. 2020 Should shows that were struggling before be gently encouraged to throw in the towel? Washington Post, "New York City can’t rebound without Broadway. And Broadway’s road back is uncertain.," 8 Sep. 2020 For the Cheers Replica bar in Faneuil Hall in Boston, the answer was to throw in the towel after nearly two decades in business. Ben Casselman, Star Tribune, "Small-business failures loom as federal aid dries up," 6 Sep. 2020 Transfer the basil to a salad spinner and spin to remove excess water (alternately, place leaves into a clean kitchen towel and press to dry). San Diego Union-Tribune, "Meat-free quinoa balls are a healthy alternative," 3 Sep. 2020 Normally losing something is a sign of carelessness: a jelly shoe, a hotel towel, the key to your Airbnb. Raven Smith, Vogue, "Summertime Sadness: Coming to Terms with a Lost Season," 27 Aug. 2020 Next, put a towel or plastic container under the tank to catch any residual H2O and reach under the tank to disconnect the water supply line from the fill valve. John Kennedy, Popular Science, "How to figure out what’s wrong with your toilet—and then fix it," 23 Aug. 2020 Here was a qualified expert with no stakes in whether college football would be played this fall, giving the green light to not throw in the towel yet. John Talty |, al, "How a cardiologist may have saved the college football season," 18 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Special considerations for pet birds include: a secure travel cage or carrier to transport; a blanket or towel to put over your pet’s cage in cold weather; a spray bottle to periodically moisten your bird’s feathers in warm weather. Karen Pearlman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Get your companion animals prepared for a disaster," 12 Sep. 2020 Participants are required to bring their own mat and towel and keep a social distance of eight feet from one another. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, "In a trying year, free yoga sessions for essential workers in Allen help ‘Support Our Scrubs’," 2 Sep. 2020 Stop whenever necessary to grab a drink, towel off and catch your breath. Dana Santas, CNN, "Get moving faster with cardio: How to reboot your workout routine," 10 Aug. 2020 Use a mat or towel to cushion your left knee, if needed. Dana Santas, CNN, "Strength training with free weights: How to reboot your workout routine," 3 Aug. 2020 These budget-friendly picks are a total pleasure to towel off with. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "The Best Way to Fold Towels," 9 June 2020 Rest 15 to 30 seconds in between sets, and take a one-minute break to drink water and towel off between rounds. Dana Santas, CNN, "Strength training with free weights: How to reboot your workout routine," 3 Aug. 2020 If a dog bites or comes in contact with a cane toad, use a damp cloth or towel and wipe the inside of the dog's mouth to make sure no toxins were swallowed, Gioeli told TCPalm. Jay Cannon, USA TODAY, "Florida tells residents to humanely kill these invasive, toxic toads that are lethal to pets," 12 June 2020 To do so, put them in a clear container with a porous lid, perhaps a piece of toweling held in place with a rubber band. oregonlive, "Need help deterring pests in the garden? Ask an expert," 2 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'towel.' 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 towel


13th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1839, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for towel


Middle English towaille, from Anglo-French tuaille, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German dwahila towel; akin to Old High German dwahan to wash

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Time Traveler for towel

Time Traveler

The first known use of towel was in the 13th century

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Statistics for towel

Last Updated

22 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Towel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for towel


How to pronounce towel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of towel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece of cloth used for drying things



English Language Learners Definition of towel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to dry (something) with a towel


tow·​el | \ ˈtau̇-əl How to pronounce towel (audio) \

Kids Definition of towel

: a cloth or piece of absorbent paper for wiping or drying


tow·​el | \ ˈtau̇(-ə)l How to pronounce towel (audio) \

Medical Definition of towel

1 : an absorbent cloth or paper for wiping or drying
2 British : sanitary napkin

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