from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • noun 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; see ret- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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



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

    Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    February 8, 2007

  • the small wheel at the end of a spur

    February 23, 2007

  • 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

  • "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

  • "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

  • "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