1 : to goad with or as if with a pointed disk at the end of a spur
2 : vex, trouble
Did You Know?
If you've seen Western movies, you've seen rowels. The noun "rowel" names the circular, point-covered disk on the end of a spur that is used to urge powerful steeds to maximum speeds. But cowboys didn't invent rowels; knights in shining armor were sporting them even before the 12th century. English speakers of yore picked up the noun "rowel" from the Anglo-French "roele," meaning "small wheel." By the end of the 1500s, "rowel" was also being used as a verb for any process of prodding or goading that was as irritating as being poked in the side with a rowel.
With one of the best fastballs in the league combined with a wicked changeup, Lester roweled the opposing line-up for his second career no-hitter.
"He folded the book shut, touched his hat, moved to the wagon, and roweled the horses around." - From Colum McCann's 2013 novel TransAtlantic
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What relative of "rowel" can refer to a gambling game in which a small ball is dropped onto a spinning wheel? The answer is …
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