troll

1 of 3

noun (1)

: a dwarf or giant in Scandinavian folklore inhabiting caves or hills

troll

2 of 3

verb

trolled; trolling; trolls

transitive verb

1
a
: to fish for by trolling
b
: to fish by trolling in
troll lakes
c
: to pull through the water in trolling
troll a lure
d
: to search in or at
trolls flea markets for bargains
also : prowl
troll nightclubs
2
a
: to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content
… trolls engage in the most outrageous and offensive behaviors possible—all the better to troll you with.Whitney Phillips
b
: to act as a troll (see troll entry 3 sense 2) on (a forum, site, etc.)
… is also notorious, for trolling message boards on the Internet, posting offensive material he himself has written and then suing anyone who responds in agreement.Mark Hemingway
c
: to harass, criticize, or antagonize (someone) especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts
The switch came after the Chargers became the butt of jokes, memes and derision on social media. The NFL tweeted the initial logo Thursday, but later deleted it as the Chargers even got trolled by other pro and college sports teams over the logo that looked like a cross between baseball's Dodgers and hockey's Lightning.Arnie Stapleton
But [Niki] Caro told The Los Angeles Times this week that there might be music after all. Caro said she got trolled by fans because of the rumor of a lack of music.Herb Scribner
The club has been trolled in a brutal (and somewhat brilliant) manner—by having a giant poster of Tevez scoring his last-day winner plastered outside their Bramall Lane ground.Will Magee
3
: to cause to move round and round : roll
4
a
: to sing the parts of (something, such as a round or catch) in succession
b
: to sing loudly
c
: to celebrate in song

intransitive verb

1
a
: to fish by trailing a lure or baited hook from a moving boat
b
: search, look
trolling for sponsors
also : prowl
2
: to move around : ramble
3
: to sing or play in a jovial manner
4
: to speak rapidly
troller noun
trolling noun

troll

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: a lure or a line with its lure and hook used in trolling
2
: a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content
Internet trolls
In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word "troll" to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities.Mattathias Schwartz

Examples of troll in a Sentence

Verb They were trolling the ocean floor. She loves to troll flea markets looking for bargains.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The Houston rapper also comes in hot, also taking a moment to shrug off the lingering trolls in her comments. Erica Gonzales, ELLE, 8 Sep. 2023 But that talk doesn't bother him, especially by internet trolls. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2023 Prigozhin attracted global renown when his St. Petersburg, Russia, troll factory intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and helped stir up right-wing populism in Europe. Paul Sonne, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Aug. 2023 The troll is made from various scrap woods and the beard and hair have about 500 to 1,000 maple branches that were collected locally. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 26 Aug. 2023 The tool helped users filter out and block accounts that were likely to be trolls–like accounts without profile photos or fewer than 100 followers. Simmone Shah, Time, 22 Aug. 2023 But his extensive media holdings, including a troll farm that figured prominently in Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, have largely been taken apart and state media has depicted him as a thug. Marc Santora, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Aug. 2023 The situation deteriorated to the point where my Twitter stream turned into a jumbled mess–most comments and mentions originated from these trolls, hurling various forms of abuse. Vivek Wadhwa, Fortune, 16 Aug. 2023 No need to give the trolls any more attention than necessary. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, 14 Aug. 2023
Verb
On Saturday, during ESPN’s pregame show production, Alabama fans made sure to troll Texas backup quarterback Arch Manning. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 9 Sep. 2023 No way should local PD be trolling around in military surplus. John Tufts, The Indianapolis Star, 7 Sep. 2023 My mom also hates tattoos and can’t seem to internalize that my niece is trolling her. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 Butkus hasn't been shy about trolling the Packers, even with nephew Luke Butkus on the coaching staff. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 28 Aug. 2023 Today in people who are in need of a grip: Everyone trolling the US Women's National Team after their heartbreaking upset loss in the World Cup. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 7 Aug. 2023 Academics condemned India for the lack of freedom to publish research, after an economist was trolled on social media for a paper that posited electoral manipulation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party. Time, 3 Aug. 2023 Which means trolling the Music Box website for tickets. Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, 2 Aug. 2023 Never comes up short: A high line capacity is ideal for jigging deep or trolling far behind the boat. Jerry Audet, Field & Stream, 19 July 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Norwegian troll & Danish trold, from Old Norse troll giant, demon; probably akin to Middle High German trolle lout

Verb

Middle English trollen "to roll, rock (the head)," of uncertain origin

Note: Probably ultimately a sound-symbolic verb whose divergent meanings are difficult to reconcile historically, suggesting multiple creations or sources. The earliest meaning was "to roll" in various contexts; perhaps derived from this was "to sing in the manner of a round or catch." The sense "to roam" is possibly attested in the Piers Plowman B text ("And thus hath he [Jesus] trolled forth : this two & thretty wynter"), though the interpretation is uncertain and comparable instances are only known centuries later. This use has conventionally been linked with Middle French treler, traler, treiller "(of hunting dogs) look for prey without a trail or the use of a scent hound," and 16th-century troller "to wander from place to place (originally of a dog)." The sense "to fish by trailing a lure or bait from a moving boat," if not of independent origin, may have been influenced by trail entry 1 and trawl entry 1; also perhaps of relevance is French treuil "winch," though most early uses of troll in this sense do not employ a comparable noun in the meaning "winch" or "reel" (see, for example, Robert Nobbes, The Compleat Troller, or the Art of Trolling, London, 1682). Sense 2, attested from the early 1990's, is probably in part from the fishing sense, in part a derivative of troll entry 3.

Noun (2)

earlier, "the act of trolling" (in various senses), derivative of troll entry 1; sense 2 in part by association with troll entry 1

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1616, in the meaning defined above

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

Noun (2)

1869, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of troll was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near troll

Cite this Entry

“Troll.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/troll. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

troll

1 of 3 verb
1
a
: to sing the parts of (as a round)
b
: to sing or recite loudly or merrily
2
: to fish for with a hook and line drawn through the water (as behind a slowly moving boat)
3
a
: to harass, criticize, or antagonize (others or another) especially by disparaging, mocking, inflammatory, or offensive public statements, online postings, or acts
b
: to act as a troll (as on a website)
troller noun

troll

2 of 3 noun
1
: a lure or a line with its lure and hook used in trolling
2
: a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content

troll

3 of 3 noun
: a dwarf or giant in Scandinavian folklore living in caves or hills
Etymology

Verb

Middle English trollen "to cause to move round and round"

Noun

from Norwegian troll and Danish trold, both meaning "a giant or dwarf of folklore"

More from Merriam-Webster on troll

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