Definition of awl in US English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One may even hear the description ‘It feels like an awl (knife, screw, etc.) has been driven in and is being twisted.’’
    • ‘Next using an awl and drill, I drilled holes into their metal where needed.’
    • ‘Start your screw hole with an awl by tapping gently with a hammer or a soft-face mallet.’
    • ‘Once the cabinets are marked lightly in pencil, use an awl or a center punch to create an indentation at the desired spot.’
    • ‘Punch holes using an awl approximately 1 3/8 inches apart, leaving a minimum of 3/8 inches at the top and bottom.’
    • ‘Use an awl or a center punch and punch a small hole at the template's center points, then remove the template.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Bone and antler were used to make dress-pins, hair combs, toggles, needle-cases, handles for iron knives, awls and other domestic equipment.’
    • ‘Make a hole in the template where the knob should be drilled with an awl or nail.’
    • ‘An abundance of bone awls suggests the importance of skin and leather working.’
    • ‘They are relatively inexpensive, are available in hundreds of colors, and are easily installed with a screwdriver and an awl.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Use the awl to make holes at the pin marks just above the topstitching.’
    • ‘A groove down one side of the triangle makes short work of sharpening fish hooks, awls, etc.’
    • ‘Using an awl or heavy needle, poke two holes through the spine of the book to thread the waxed linen through.’
    • ‘I opened my leatherman and used the awl to bore a small hole.’
    • ‘Stone tools of the tradition include triangular points made on flakes, racloirs, triangular bifacial handaxes, and burins and awls made on blades.’
    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.