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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English scowlen, scoulen, skoulen (also as Middle English schoulen), probably of North Germanic origin. Compare Danish skule (to scowl), Norwegian skule (to scowl).


  • enPR: skoul, IPA(key): /skaʊl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊl


scowl (plural scowls)

  1. The wrinkling of the brows or face in frowning; the expression of displeasure, sullenness, or discontent in the countenance; an angry frown.
  2. (by extension) Gloom; dark or threatening aspect.
Derived terms[edit]


scowl (third-person singular simple present scowls, present participle scowling, simple past and past participle scowled)

  1. (intransitive) To wrinkle the brows, as in frowning or displeasure; to put on a frowning look; to look sour, sullen, severe, or angry.
    • Spenser
      She scowled and frowned with froward countenance.
  2. (intransitive, by extension) To look gloomy, dark, or threatening; to lower.
    • Thomson
      The scowling heavens.
  3. (transitive) To look at or repel with a scowl or a frown.
    to scowl a rival into submission
  4. (transitive) To express by a scowl.
    to scowl defiance

Etymology 2[edit]


scowl (uncountable)

  1. (Britain, dialectal, obsolete) Old workings of iron ore.