1 of 2


trawled; trawling; trawls

intransitive verb

: to fish with a trawl
: to make a search as if by trawling

transitive verb

: to catch (fish) with a trawl


2 of 2


: a large conical net dragged along the sea bottom in gathering fish or other marine life

Examples of trawl in a Sentence

Verb The boat trawled far out at sea. a fishing boat trawling the ocean floor He trawled the Internet looking for websites on growing grapes. She was trawling through old letters for information about her family.
Recent Examples on the Web
In 2012, MacAskill had been trawling elite American universities, looking to catch future EA funders. Leif Wenar, WIRED, 27 Mar. 2024 Movie fans can trawl through Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, and Disney picks, while shoppers with a love for certain series can pick up models based on beloved characters from Friends, Ted Lasso, and The Office. Melissa Epifano,, 23 Nov. 2023 China has in recent years escalated its efforts to trawl international public social media and trace targets abroad, though the crossover between public mass-monitoring and private hacking is often unclear. Aaron Schaffer, Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2024 Related article Paul McCartney says ‘last’ Beatles song featuring John Lennon is ‘quite emotional’ Meanwhile, Naomi Jones trawled through archives to verify those addresses and confirm that the story held up. Issy Ronald, CNN, 16 Feb. 2024 The Porches trawled up the outside of the cemetery, which was lined with ivy and barbed wire. Lizz Schumer, Peoplemag, 12 Feb. 2024 True Detective became a phenomenon by trawling psychological depths and intertwining humanity’s unimaginable evils with the supernatural. Lisa Wong MacAbasco, Vogue, 11 Jan. 2024 Volunteer archivists, librarians, and computer scientists were trawling government websites, looking for data sets about climate change to duplicate for safekeeping. Zoë Schlanger, The Atlantic, 4 Dec. 2023 Luckily, after trawling the Vogue weddings archive, Skinner stumbled upon the work of Jackson Wiederhoeft. Florence O'Connor, Vogue, 3 Jan. 2024
According to David Brown, who leads the Virtual Treasury’s trawl through domestic and overseas archives, before this trove of political history came into Congress’s possession, one previous owner had tried to sell it as fuel. Ed O’Loughlin, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2024 Last year, The Intercept reported on a shadowy Pentagon unit called the Protective Services Battalion, which trawls through social media searching for posts from service members that might embarrass current and former top military brass. Will Carless, USA TODAY, 22 Mar. 2024 Alaska’s Bering Sea and Aleutian Island groundfish trawl fisheries this year caught 10 killer whales in their massive nets. Outdoor Life, 28 Sep. 2023 Since the start of this year, nine orcas—also known as killer whales—have died in groundfish trawl fisheries in the Bering Sea near the Aleutian Islands. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Sep. 2023 And the fast pace of the trawl fishery has contributed to shorter seasons. Maggie Nelson, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Sep. 2023 The next trawl, a few miles downstream, brought up seven more specimens. Robert Kunzig, Scientific American, 17 Oct. 2023 Dave Matthews, a TVA biologist, helped Stiles empty the trawl. Robert Kunzig, Scientific American, 17 Oct. 2023 This year, some fishers have observed a novel behavior among orcas that might be related to the recent entanglements, according to a statement from Groundfish Forum, a trade association that represents 19 trawl vessels. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Sep. 2023

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

Word History



probably from obsolete Dutch tragelen

First Known Use


1561, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1759, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of trawl was in 1561

Dictionary Entries Near trawl

Cite this Entry

“Trawl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to fish or catch with a trawl


2 of 2 noun
: a large cone-shaped net dragged along the sea bottom in fishing

More from Merriam-Webster on trawl

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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