cowl

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English[edit]

Monk wearing a cowl (Flemish, 15th century)
Spinning chimney cowls
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Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English coule, from Old English cūle, from earlier cugele (hood, cowl), from Ecclesiastical Latin cuculla (monk's cowl), from Latin cucullus (hood), of uncertain origin. Doublet of cagoule.

Noun[edit]

cowl (plural cowls)

  1. A monk's hood that can be pulled forward to cover the face; a robe with such a hood attached to it.
  2. A mask that covers the majority of the head.
  3. A thin protective covering over all or part of an engine; also cowling.
    • 1944, Nevil Shute, chapter 8, in Pastoral, London: Pan Books:[3]
      [] fire was spurting up from the torn engine cowl and glowing in the cockpit.
  4. A usually hood-shaped covering used to increase the draft of a chimney and prevent backflow.
    • 1928, Virginia Woolf, chapter 4, in Orlando: A Biography, Penguin, 1942, page 157:[4]
      In the extreme clearness of the atmosphere the line of every roof, the cowl of every chimney was perceptible []
    • 1933, Dorothy L. Sayers, “Sleuths on the Scent” in Hangman’s Holiday, New York: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 96,[5]
      I’m sure I’m very sorry, but it’s always this way when the wind’s in the east, sir, and we’ve tried ever so many sorts of cowls and chimney-pots, you’d be surprised.
  5. (nautical) A ship's ventilator with a bell-shaped top which can be swivelled to catch the wind and force it below.
    • 1902 January–March, Joseph Conrad, “Typhoon”, in George R. Halkett, editor, The Pall Mall Magazine, volume XXVI, London: Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, OCLC 1003917852, chapter II, page 101:
      He flung himself at the port ventilator as though he meant to tear it out bodily and toss it overboard. All he did was to move the cowl round a few inches, with an enormous expenditure of force, and seemed spent in the effort.
  6. (nautical) A vertical projection of a ship's funnel that directs the smoke away from the bridge.
  7. (metonymically) A monk.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

cowl (third-person singular simple present cowls, present participle cowling, simple past and past participle cowled)

  1. To cover with, or as if with, a cowl (hood).
    • 1817, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Human Life, On the Denial of Immortality” in Sibylline Leaves: A Collection of Poems, London: Rest Fenner, p. 269,[6]
      Why cowl thy face beneath the Mourner’s hood,
    • 1870, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Pelleas and Ettare” in The Holy Grail and Other Poems, London: Strahan, pp. 120-121,[7]
      But he by wild and way []
      Rode till the star above the wakening sun,
      Beside that tower where Percivale was cowl’d [i.e. became a monk],
      Glanced from the rosy forehead of the dawn.
    • 1945, Robert W. Service, Ploughman of the Moon, New York: Dodd, Mead, Chapter 8, p. 249,[8]
      The sky was cowled with cloud, all except a narrow chink where it met the horizon.
  2. To wrap or form (something made of fabric) like a cowl.
    • 1964, Hortense Calisher, Extreme Magic in Extreme Magic: A Novella and Other Stories, Boston: Little, Brown, p. 208,[9]
      When he came downstairs from the bar with the whiskies, she had found a sweater for herself and had cowled a thick raincoat over Sligo.
    • 1972, Edna O’Brien, Night, New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1987, p. 70,[10]
      As the evenings got colder, he used to reach up and pull down the green baize cloth, and cowl it around himself and wear it like a kind of igloo.
  3. (transitive) To make a monk of (a person).

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English cuuel, from Old French cuvel (vat), diminutive of cuve, from Latin cūpa (tub, cask, tun, vat).

Noun[edit]

cowl (plural cowls)

  1. (obsolete, Britain) A vessel carried on a pole, a soe.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

See caul, probably altered due to semantic association (“something covering the head”).

Noun[edit]

cowl (plural cowls)

  1. A caul (the amnion which encloses the foetus before birth, especially that part of it which sometimes shrouds a baby’s head at birth).
    • 1896, I. K. Friedman, The Lucky Number, Chicago: Way and Williams, “A Coat of One Color,” p. 55,[11]
      According to one of his accounts—and his accounts varied with his audience—he was the seventh son of a seventh son, and born with a cowl on his face []
    • 1982, André Brink, A Chain of Voices, New York: William Morrow, Part 3, “Campher,” p. 331,[12]
      [] I’d been born with a cowl, which from my earliest age prompted a wide variety of predictions about my future, alternately dire and enthusiastic.

Anagrams[edit]