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Ancient Egyptian faience bowl, from circa 200–150 BC
French Neoclassical bowl (jatte à anses relevées or jatte écuelle), from circa 1787-1788


  • (UK) IPA(key): /bəʊɫ/, [bɔʊɫ]
  • (US) IPA(key): /boʊɫ/
  • Rhymes: -əʊl
  • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English bolle, from Old English bolla, bolle (bowl, cup, pot, beaker, measure), from Proto-West Germanic *bollā, from Proto-Germanic *bullǭ (ball, round vessel, bowl).

Cognate with North Frisian bol (bun, bread roll), Middle Low German bolle, bole (round object), Dutch bol (ball, sphere, scoop, dot), German Bolle (bulb), Danish bolle (bowl, bread roll), Icelandic bolli (cup).


bowl (plural bowls)

  1. A roughly hemispherical container used to hold, mix or present food, such as salad, fruit or soup, or other items.
  2. As much as is held by a bowl.
    You can’t have any more soup – you’ve had three bowls already.
  3. A dish comprising a mix of different foods, not all of which need be cooked, served in a bowl.
    This restaurant offers a number of different bowls.
  4. A haircut in which straight hair is cut at an even height around the edges, forming a bowl shape.
  5. The round hollow part of anything.
    Direct the cleaning fluid around the toilet bowl and under the rim.
    1. The part of a spoon that holds content, as opposed to the handle.
    2. A part of a pipe or bong packed with marijuana for smoking
      • 2010, Mark Arax, West of the West[1], page 221:
        “Purple smoke is no joke. Especially when it is real purple. The smell, taste, and high is easily one of the best in the world. One bowl of some purple Kush, and I'm done for a couple of hours.
      Let's smoke a bowl!
    3. (typography) A rounded portion of a glyph that encloses empty space, as in the letters d and o.
  6. A round crater (or similar) in the ground.
  7. (sports, theater) An elliptical-shaped stadium or amphitheater resembling a bowl.
  8. (American football) A postseason football competition, a bowl game (i.e. Rose Bowl, Super Bowl)
Derived terms[edit]
  • Bislama: bol
  • Esperanto: bovlo
  • German: Bowle
  • Ido: bolo
  • Japanese: ボール (bōru)
  • Latvian: bole (probably via German)
  • Korean: (bol)
  • Scottish Gaelic: bòl
  • Swedish: bål

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English bowle, boule, from Old French boule (ball), from Latin bulla (bubble, stud, round object). Doublet of poll.


bowl (plural bowls)

  1. The ball rolled by players in the game of lawn bowls.
  2. The action of bowling a ball.
  3. (in the plural, but used with a singular verb) The game of bowls.
    Synonyms: lawn bowls, lawn bowling


bowl (third-person singular simple present bowls, present participle bowling, simple past and past participle bowled)

  1. (transitive) To roll or throw (a ball) in the correct manner in cricket and similar games and sports.
  2. (intransitive) To throw the ball (in cricket and similar games and sports).
  3. To roll or carry smoothly on, or as on, wheels.
    We were bowled rapidly along the road.
  4. To pelt or strike with anything rolled.
Derived terms[edit]