\ ˈtrȯl How to pronounce trawl (audio) \
trawled; trawling; trawls

Definition of trawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to fish with a trawl
b : to make a search as if by trawling

transitive verb

: to catch (fish) with a trawl



Definition of trawl (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Examples of trawl in a Sentence


The boat trawled far out at sea. a fishing boat trawling the ocean floor He trawled the Internet looking for Web sites on growing grapes. She was trawling through old letters for information about her family.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The country launched a 10,000-strong cyber unit known as Force 47 in late 2017 to trawl the web to counter criticism of the communist government. James Hookway, WSJ, "Facebook on Notice as Vietnam Tightens Grip on Social Media," 9 Jan. 2019 Amazon Web Services told Fox News that Rekognition is designed to efficiently trawl through vast quantities of image data. James Rogers, Fox News, "Amazon face recognition wrongly tagged lawmakers as police suspects, fueling racial bias concerns," 27 July 2018 The dress is a prized possession for anyone who has been able to unearth one eBay or by trawling vintage shops. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Rita Ora Brings Back One of Fashion’s Most Iconic Prints," 14 Dec. 2018 For two years, Google has been trawling through your emails for hotel bookings, flight reservations, train tickets, and more, packaging them up with a nice pretty bow in its Trips app. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Searching 'Milan' a Lot? Google's New 'Potential Trips' Will Plan a Vacation for You," 27 Sep. 2018 In 1987 a £1million ($1.3 million) exploration called Operation Deepscan used a fleet of 24 boats which used sonar equipment to trawled 23-mile long lake. Fox News, "Loch Ness Monster: This is Scotland's plan if the fabled beast is caught," 10 July 2018 The 45-year-old financial advisor from Ramsey, New Jersey, thinks of himself as a car nut, and his buddy is the kind of guy who likes to trawl the internet for car deals. Gabrielle Coppola,, "How to Lease a $50,000 BMW for Less Than a Subway Pass," 14 May 2018 The company provides a search engine that trawls nearly 50 million looping clips, from kitten fails to presidential facial expressions. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "How Coders Are Fighting Bias in Facial Recognition Software," 29 Mar. 2018 Each time the whale shark came up to the photic zone to trawl for plankton, the bob would rise to the surface and (with luck) be detected by one of a network of orbiting satellites. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "What the Longest Known Whale Shark Migration Ever Tells Us About Conservation," 8 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Young visitors can test water quality and trawl for plankton with the Billion Oyster Project, learn angling with I Fish NY, make sea creature masks and other crafts, and enjoy live music and theater. Laurel Graeber, New York Times, "9 Things to Do With Your Kids in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 12 July 2018 And although 2017 assessments by the U.S. Geological Survey found alewife biomass to be lowest on record (by bottom trawl) and fourth-lowest (by acoustic testing), the key forage fish is showing up on anglers' graphs and in salmon stomachs. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Larger salmon spicing up Lake Michigan catches this year," 23 June 2018 There are so many references that the show feels as if it was written by dragging a fishing trawl through a library. New York Times, "Who Is Neville Longbottom, and Why Should I Care? A Potter Newbie on That Broadway Show," 24 May 2018 Net mesh size and shape have been changed to allow smaller shrimp to escape the trawl, and the fishery is closed entirely for two months when juveniles move into the fishing grounds. Wendy Mitman Clarke, Smithsonian, "How a Fallback to Historic Traditions Might Save Catalonia’s Red Shrimp Fishery," 5 July 2018 The data included creel survey information, annual forage assessments by acoustic and bottom trawls and fish examined at weirs. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Lake Michigan chinook and alewife are near the desired balance, a new report says," 28 Mar. 2018 Aboard a wooden fishing trawler of about 65 feet, Fèlix Boquera helps ready the trawl net for the day’s work—the pursuit of the gamba roja, red shrimp. Wendy Mitman Clarke, Smithsonian, "How a Fallback to Historic Traditions Might Save Catalonia’s Red Shrimp Fishery," 5 July 2018 The population of alewife, the invasive fish that became the primary forage fish in the lake after the decline of the ciscos, is the lowest seen since bottom trawl studies were initiated in the 1970s. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Lake herring restoration is being considered for Lake Michigan," 3 Jan. 2018 The federal council vote, which happened April 9, is part of a broader effort to turn around the fortunes of the Northwest bottom trawl fleet. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "Conservationists, West Coast bottom fishermen embrace ‘grand bargain’," 16 Apr. 2018

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


1561, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1759, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for trawl


probably from obsolete Dutch tragelen

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Dictionary Entries near trawl







trawl board

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Time Traveler for trawl

The first known use of trawl was in 1561

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More Definitions for trawl



English Language Learners Definition of trawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to catch fish with a large net (called a trawl)
: to search through (something) in order to find someone or something



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

: a large net that a boat pulls along the bottom of the ocean to catch fish


\ ˈtrȯl How to pronounce trawl (audio) \
trawled; trawling

Kids Definition of trawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to fish or catch with a large net dragged along the sea bottom



Kids Definition of trawl (Entry 2 of 2)

: a large net in the shape of a cone dragged along the sea bottom in fishing

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More from Merriam-Webster on trawl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trawl

Spanish Central: Translation of trawl

Nglish: Translation of trawl for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about trawl

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