from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sharp-toothed wheel inserted into the end of the shank of a spur.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The small spiked wheel on the end of a spur.
  • v. To use a rowel on something, especially to drain fluid.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The little wheel of a spur, with sharp points.
  • n. A little flat ring or wheel on horses' bits.
  • n. A roll of hair, silk, etc., passed through the flesh of horses, answering to a seton in human surgery.
  • transitive v. To insert a rowel, or roll of hair or silk, into (as the flesh of a horse).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To use the rowel on; put spurs to.
  • In farriery, to apply a rowel to.
  • To furnish with a rowel, as a spur.
  • n. . A small wheel, ring, or circle.
  • n. The wheel of a horseman's spur, armed with pointed rays.
  • n. A roller on the mouthpiece of an old form of bit for horses.
  • n. In farriery, a seton inserted in the flesh of an animal.
  • n. The spiked wheel of some forms of soil-pulverizers and wheel-harrows.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small spiked wheel at the end of a spur


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old French roelle, diminutive of roue, wheel, from Latin rota.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old French roel, from late Latin rotella, diminutive of Latin rota ‘wheel’.


  • They are of blue steel inlaid with strips of silver, and the rowel is a sort of cogged wheel, from an inch and a half to three inches in diameter.

    Anahuac : or, Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern

  • We all know about her rowel in the White House Administration with Rahm Emanuel, well she seems to be spreading the wealth around.

    Matthew Yglesias » Endgame

  • Carry the youth to the presence, and I will remain here, with bridle in hand, ready to strike the spurs up to the rowel-heads, in case the hawk flies my way. —

    The Abbot

  • So, he's going to have to rowel up the crowd and prosecute that case against John McCain.

    CNN Transcript Aug 27, 2008

  • It was caked and corroded with rust, worn almost paper-thin, but he knew it for what it was -- a spur-rowel, unmistakably Spanish with its long cruel points.

    People of the Dark

  • I had no spurs, neither was my horse one to need the rowel; I rather held him in than urged him, for he was fresh as ever; and I knew that the black steed in front, if he breasted the steep ascent, where the track divided, must be in our reach at once.

    Lorna Doone

  • Wild with his wrong, he struck the rowel deep into the flank of his wading horse, and in scorn of the depth drove him up the river.

    Mary Anerley

  • I measured one which was six inches in the diameter of the rowel, and the rowel itself contained upwards of thirty points.

    Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle

  • Dig your spurs in my body up to the rowel, draw your sword, and keep yourself ready, for we shall have to leap over both bridge and dragon.

    The Violet Fairy Book

  • She bounced them in her hand, in her mind's eye seeing Ocean Foam rear, spilling her father (one spur catches in a stirrup; the rowel breaks free), then stumbling sideways and falling atop him.

    Wizard and Glass


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  • "The only item of interest was in the bottom drawer: a pair of spurs. One still had its star rowel, but the other had been broken off." From Wizard and Glass by Stephen King.

    January 28, 2011

  • "They were the eyes of a dwindling life, of a horse accustomed to the rowel on her silver bit, to a man's grim hand on her headstall."

    "Twins" by C.E. Morgan, in The New Yorker, June 14 & 21, 2010, page 131

    July 13, 2010

  • "He creaked and jingled as he walked. The rowel was missing from one of his spurs. He looked hot, and fairly cross."

    —Diana Gabaldon, Voyager (NY: Dell, 1994), 807

    January 17, 2010

  • It's rumored that Harry Hotspur suffered from irritable rowel syndrome. As opposed to the Johnny Appleseed, who suffered from irritable trowel syndrome. or Vanna White, who ...

    I need hardly say more.

    April 9, 2008

  • the small wheel at the end of a spur

    February 23, 2007

  • "I'll dig my spurs in him up to the rowel."

    Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    February 8, 2007