tow·el | \ˈtau̇(-ə)l \

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


She dried her hair with a towel. Here's a towel to wipe up the spill.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The other big talk at that Republican gathering was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who at the time had just thrown in the towel in his race with Donald Trump for the GOP’s presidential nomination. Ross Ramsey, star-telegram, "Are Texas political conventions necessary?," 16 June 2018 In March, Sara Blackwell, the attorney who sued Disney threw in the towel, acknowledging the workers could not win the case. Adelaide Chen,, "Deloitte Consulting seeks foreign workers for Lake Mary center," 13 June 2018 Wrap claws in a towel and using a kitchen mallet (or the back of a heavy knife) pound claws until just cracked, remove the meat and set aside. Phil Potempa, Post-Tribune, "From the Farm: Lobsters and chefs share decades of a love-hate relationship," 9 June 2018 Things got so bad for Portland that Terry Stotts threw in the towel with over 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Tim Brown,, "Who do you blame for the Portland Trail Blazers' Game 3 loss: The players or the coach?," 19 Apr. 2018 When water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, turn off heat, cover pot with a clean towel and put the lid back on. Anna Thomas Bates, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "On a hot day, this quinoa salad can cool you down - without overheating your kitchen," 11 July 2018 When Pickford and Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina shook hands and were instructed by the referee, the England player covered the bottle with a towel to keep it hidden. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "World Cup penalty shootouts have nothing to do with luck," 5 July 2018 Leave the coconut oil on your skin for a few minutes, then gently rub it off with a warm hand towel to exfoliate, cleanse, and hydrate all in one step. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Priyanka Chopra and Her Mom Dish About Their DIY Beauty Secrets," 21 June 2018 Pat pork dry with paper towel and rub with garlic mixture. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Dill-Crusted Pork and Farro Salad," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Swimmers can reduce the risk of getting the itch by toweling off after going in the water and swimming in colder water, away from shore. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Feel like a swim? Here’s the lowdown on Anchorage lakes," 4 July 2018 For fun that doesn’t involve having to towel off, Great Wolf created a 40,000-square-foot adventure park that includes a climbing wall, ropes course and nine-hole minigolf course. Lori Rackl,, "First look: Great Wolf Lodge Illinois ready to welcome guests, Chance the Rapper," 21 June 2018 For fun that doesn’t involve having to towel off, Great Wolf created a 40,000-square-foot adventure park that includes a climbing wall, ropes course and nine-hole minigolf course. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Chance the Rapper leads camp kids in test run at Great Wolf Lodge, Gurnee's newly renovated water park," 21 June 2018 Then on Monday, they were photographed toweling off after a swim. Jeff Nelson,, "Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin Step Out as Source Says He 'Has No Contact' with Selena Gomez," 13 June 2018 Visitors can get a haircut and peruse displays of antique and vintage barber equipment, from chairs and striped poles to towel steamers and straight razors. New York Times, "'Barbering Is an Art’," 4 May 2018 Step 5: Allow test sites to dry completely without toweling. Dr. Leslie Baumann, miamiherald, "Sunscreen sun protection factor (SPF) testing methods explained," 16 Apr. 2018 The home’s current design already has a full bath next to the mudroom, perfect should someone want people to shower and towel off before heading back into the house. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "This $1.5M Meridian-Kessler home has 5 bedrooms and something you'd never expect," 6 Apr. 2018 The Kilo is made from the same ballistic nylon as the rest of the Treadwell collection and can be hung on a tree branch or towel rack via a small webbing strap that snaps closed. Ben Fox, Outside Online, "First Look: Chrome Treadwell Travel Bags," 21 Mar. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near towel

tow bug

tow car

tow cloth


towel bar


towel gourd

Statistics for towel

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for towel

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

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More Definitions for towel



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 \

Kids Definition of towel

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


tow·el | \ˈtau̇(-ə)l \

Medical Definition of towel 

1 : an absorbent cloth or paper for wiping or drying

2 British : sanitary napkin

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