Definition of awl in English:



  • A small pointed tool used for piercing holes, especially in leather.

    • ‘The awl cuts a tidy hole in the leather that will close up tight around the thread as it is sewn, leaving a watertight stitch.’
    • ‘An abundance of bone awls suggests the importance of skin and leather working.’
    • ‘Bone and antler were used to make dress-pins, hair combs, toggles, needle-cases, handles for iron knives, awls and other domestic equipment.’
    • ‘Each side of the Leatherman houses different tools: a bottle opener, small, medium and large screwdrivers, a Phillips head, a file, an awl and a knife blade.’
    • ‘Once the cabinets are marked lightly in pencil, use an awl or a center punch to create an indentation at the desired spot.’
    • ‘Use an awl or a center punch and punch a small hole at the template's center points, then remove the template.’
    • ‘Lastly, it appears unlikely that the tools classified as ‘drills’ functioned in such a capacity; instead, these tools probably were used as awls for perforating hides.’
    • ‘Arrows and barbed harpoons were placed near the right leg; milling stones, awls, chisels, knives, and other offerings were set to the left of the body.’
    • ‘I opened my leatherman and used the awl to bore a small hole.’
    • ‘A groove down one side of the triangle makes short work of sharpening fish hooks, awls, etc.’
    • ‘Punch holes using an awl approximately 1 3/8 inches apart, leaving a minimum of 3/8 inches at the top and bottom.’
    • ‘Stone tools of the tradition include triangular points made on flakes, racloirs, triangular bifacial handaxes, and burins and awls made on blades.’
    • ‘Blinded at the age of three in an accident with a sharp awl or knife when he was playing with the tools in his father's workshop, he would never have any memory of being sighted.’
    • ‘Start your screw hole with an awl by tapping gently with a hammer or a soft-face mallet.’
    • ‘They are relatively inexpensive, are available in hundreds of colors, and are easily installed with a screwdriver and an awl.’
    • ‘Using an awl or heavy needle, poke two holes through the spine of the book to thread the waxed linen through.’
    • ‘Make a hole in the template where the knob should be drilled with an awl or nail.’
    • ‘Use the awl to make holes at the pin marks just above the topstitching.’
    • ‘Next using an awl and drill, I drilled holes into their metal where needed.’
    • ‘One may even hear the description ‘It feels like an awl (knife, screw, etc.) has been driven in and is being twisted.’’
    drilling tool, boring tool, rotary tool, auger, bit, brace and bit, gimlet, bradawl
    View synonyms


Old English æl, of Germanic origin; related to German Ahle.