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

When the water has drained out, gently dry your outer ear with a towel or blow dryer. Korin Miller, SELF, "What to Do If You Have an Earwax Blockage," 29 Jan. 2019 Pat chicken dry with a paper towel, then rub with paprika and ½ tsp each salt and pepper. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Chicken with Stewed Peppers and Tomatoes," 8 Jan. 2019 For shine-bright-like-a-diamond hair, comb deep conditioner through damp, clean hair and wrap your head with a towel. Editors, Seventeen, "50 Life-Changing Prom Beauty Tips You Haven't Heard Before," 19 Dec. 2018 Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Gingerbread Rolls," 7 Dec. 2018 After doing so, dab with a towel to absorb the alcohol and help lift the excess bits of slime. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "How To Remove Slime From Your Furniture, Carpet And More," 5 Dec. 2018 One Naturopath insisted that taking scalding showers then wrapping myself in a towel soaked in ice water was the answer. Nancy Richardson Fischer, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Power of Not Naming My Disorder," 3 Dec. 2018 But physicists have no intention of throwing in the towel. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 Musk grabs the towel handles with both hands and presses the brand hard into the wood frame of a large chalkboard menu hanging on the restaurant’s wall. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Kimbal Musk Is Reinventing Food One Shipping Container at a Time," 24 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Two tips for curly hair: Leave a little bit of conditioner in after rinsing, and never towel-dry. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "Beat the Heat! How 6 Models Maintain Their Signature Spirals," 13 Aug. 2018 Apply on clean skin for no longer than the instructions say (usually six to eight minutes), then towel it off. Cristina Mueller, Redbook, "Q& Triple A: I have little hairs around my chin and upper lip. Help!," 10 Jan. 2011 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

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

17 Feb 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on towel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with towel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for towel

Spanish Central: Translation of towel

Nglish: Translation of towel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of towel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on towel

What made you want to look up towel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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