Definition of trowel in English:



  • 1A small handheld tool with a flat, pointed blade, used to apply and spread mortar or plaster.

    ‘a pointing trowel’
    • ‘Pour the liquid latex into the sand and cement mixture and mix it completely with a trowel or other tool.’
    • ‘The technique is very simple, use a rubber faced trowel to spread the grout and a cotton cloth to clean the excess grout from the tiles afterwards.’
    • ‘Using a trowel, apply plaster over the hole covering the patch and filling the entire hole.’
    • ‘Using your chalk line as a guide, spread the mortar with a notched trowel over a 2x5-foot section of the floor.’
    • ‘Crevice trowels have the narrowest blades, about 1 1/4 inches wide.’
    • ‘It's a veritable hardware store of saw blades, pickaxe blades, trowels and awls.’
    • ‘Using a notched trowel and working in small sections, spread 1/4 inch of grout or tile adhesive on the table surface.’
    • ‘Technically, you are supposed to spread the adhesive with a notched trowel.’
    • ‘Using a notched trowel, spread the adhesive over one square area, not going over the reference lines of that area.’
    • ‘Remove the bricks and use a pointed trowel to apply mortar to the concrete base, but do not go beyond the chalk lines.’
    • ‘Use a putty knife or a small notched trowel to apply adhesive to the back of the tile - your tile dealer can help you with the right adhesive for your situation - and press the tile into place.’
    • ‘The most common finish for interiors has a smooth finish created by running a flat trowel over the top.’
    • ‘In some cases an additional texture coat of finish material is applied over the initial finish coat and tooled with a trowel or other tool.’
    • ‘Use a small trowel to spread plaster onto a piece of muslin.’
    • ‘Plasters and stuccos are spread by hand or trowel, or sprayed on with a mechanical sprayer or pump.’
    • ‘Wet the joint and then apply new mortar into the joint with a small masonry trowel or putty knife.’
    • ‘For shallow or small repairs, use a wide putty knife or trowel to apply a vinyl patching compound in multiple layers as directed by the maker.’
    • ‘Spread the adhesives on the wall using the flat side of the trowel.’
    • ‘Once the tile is flexible, apply adhesive to the floor with a notched trowel and drop the tile into place.’
    • ‘As you lay the bricks, use the edge of the trowel to cut off excess mortar; this can be returned to the mortarboard.’
  • 2A small handheld tool with a curved scoop for lifting plants or earth.

    ‘a garden trowel’
    • ‘Use a small trowel or soil knife to dig a hole slightly larger than the herb's pot and collect the soil in a bucket.’
    • ‘Julia continues to dig deeper with a small shovel, a garden trowel.’
    • ‘Imagine being able to go outside in February and March and actually use a rototiller, or better yet, use a hand trowel.’
    • ‘To help you determine planting depths and plant spacing, garden trowels often come with measurements right on the metal.’
    • ‘Chris sighed and kept on digging his trowel into the earth.’
    • ‘Many of his clients are recently retired baby boomers who have given up their fancy threads and skyscraper offices for gloves, a trowel, and a garden in the country.’
    • ‘As you slide out the trowel, push any scattered soil back into the hole, then water the area to settle the soil.’
    • ‘The gardener has done magnificent work - and it seems strange to use that term for the old scientist who is equally at home with his hydroponics and gene-fixing as with fertilisers and a trowel.’
    • ‘Within five minutes the computer was inside my briefcase, and I was walking out to the vegetable garden with a trowel in my hand and a grin on my face.’
    • ‘When visiting, bring a pot or two of tulips and a trowel.’
    • ‘If this happens, loosen the soil with a trowel and replant the bulb, taking care not to damage the roots.’
    • ‘Probably one of the most-used small tools is the trowel, which is ideal for digging small holes for planting and transplanting annuals, vegetables and other smaller plants.’
    • ‘In the car, I keep small pots and a trowel in a cardboard box and I did dig some native plants from wet ditches for bog plants.’
    • ‘Remove a core of soil from the lawn with a trowel or shovel and measure the depth of the thatch, which is the layer of dead grass above the soil line.’
    • ‘As a test, check soil moisture just before the system is due to come on by using a soil probe or digging down 3 to 6 inches (depending on size of plant) with a trowel.’
    • ‘Dig into the top 2 to 3 inches of soil with a trowel.’
    • ‘Hand-weed with a trowel tip or soil knife, making sure to get the roots, which are especially irksome in dry soil.’
    • ‘Small hand trowels, secateurs or a new pair of gardening gloves are also favourites.’
    • ‘Use a trowel or dibber to make a hole twice their size and plant with the flat base at the bottom.’
    • ‘If the kids are old enough to garden, they can usually manage to use a hand trowel and fork.’


  • Apply or spread with or as if with a trowel.

    ‘trowel in enough soil to form a dome’
    ‘Kerrie trowelled jam on to her toast’
    • ‘First, a scratch coat is troweled onto the lath; the plaster oozes through the lath and grips the backing when it hardens.’
    • ‘When troweling it on, push and move the material, creating varying textures.’
    • ‘Utterly maintenance free, it's a warm natural finish, sometimes with salmon- or ochre-colored striations, and can be troweled smooth or scraped vertically for a rough finish.’
    • ‘I was trowelling down through stiff clay which is quite hard on the wrist and suddenly the soil gave way to reveal a hard surface made up of tiny bits of red tile.’
    • ‘She then troweled a thin layer of overlay cement into the unmasked areas, coloring it afterwards.’
    • ‘This ‘lays the floor in,’ creating the best conditions for final troweling operations.’
    • ‘Finally, as the concrete further sets or stiffens, troweling operations begin, if required.’
    • ‘For a start, its façade doesn't need to be heavily trowelled with filler to make it look vaguely presentable.’
    • ‘Slabs that will be heavily troweled should not contain entrained air because of the probability that delamination will result.’
    • ‘You are now ready for the next finishing step - waiting for initial setting to occur and the bleed water to rise and evaporate - followed by troweling, edging, and jointing.’
    • ‘At last a return for all that heavy labour, trowelling, surveying and drawing.’
    • ‘Overlay cements are sticky and require experience in terms of troweling a finish.’
    • ‘This involves placing either a powdered or liquid release after color has been troweled, and rolling a large texture roller over the concrete surface.’
    • ‘Depending on the screeding method, parking lot pavement may be bullfloated or finished with a check rod, but it should not be troweled.’
    • ‘I carefully troweled the last of the dirt around the spindly little plant.’
    • ‘The purpose of this tool is to reduce local high spots caused by any imperfections in form setting and from the power floating and troweling operations.’
    • ‘A full bed of adhesive should be fully troweled to within 1 inch of each edge on clean and dry boards using a 1/4-inch deep, notched trowel.’
    • ‘Final troweling operations are completed with riding trowels.’
    • ‘The cement becomes sticky, and troweling often causes damage by pulling the cement loose from the concrete, causing bubbles.’
    • ‘These can simply be hand-filled and troweled smooth as you lay your bricks.’


Middle English (as a noun): from Old French truele, from medieval Latin truella, alteration of Latin trulla scoop, diminutive of trua skimmer.