1 : to goad with or as if with a pointed disk at the end of a spur
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." It wasn't until the 16th century that rowel began to be used as a verb for the act of spurring a horse with a rowel. By the 19th century, rowel was 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.
"He folded the book shut, touched his hat, moved to the wagon, and roweled the horses around." — Colum McCann, TransAtlantic, 2013
"Then suddenly he found himself at the end of his money.… Hunger rode him and roweled him. He was no longer well fed, comfortable." — Frank Norris, McTeague, 1899
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to complete a synonym of the verb rowel meaning "to goad": _ _ st _ g _ _ e.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP