Definition of trawl in English:

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Pronunciation: /trɔːl/


[no object]
1Fish with a trawl net or seine: the boats trawled for flounder (as noun trawling) restrictions on trawling
More example sentences
  • Katrin built a fire from deadwood, it being illegal to cut living vegetation, while I trawled for bass.
  • Researchers say dwindling fish stocks due to trawling by foreign fishing fleets is a key cause of the increase in the ‘bush meat’ trade in Ghana.
  • Local fishing vessels trawling in Waterford Estuary have recently landed some pieces of timber which eventually attracted the attention of archaeologists.
1.1 [with object] Catch with a trawl or seine: British cod is being replaced by hoki, trawled from great depths off New Zealand
More example sentences
  • There I had the opportunity to participate in research cruises and see firsthand the wonderful creatures that were trawled up from as much as 4,000 feet [1,220 meters].
  • And with this shaft of light, he says skippers should take the chance to prove haddock can be trawled without effecting cod.
  • They also collect water samples for the Marine Institute and samples of deepwater corals which are sometimes trawled up by Irish vessels.
1.2 [with object] Drag or trail (something) through water: she trawled a toe to test the temperature
More example sentences
  • Capturing boys playing baseball and fishermen trawling the nets, his photographs knock aside traditional representations of Mt Fuji as a beautiful, unspoilt wonder to expose the ordinary human world that lives at its foot.
2Search thoroughly: the Home Office trawled through twenty-five-year-old confidential files [with object]: he trawled his memory and remembered locking the door
More example sentences
  • I trawled through bookshops, I searched for the perfect cup of coffee, I bought records by Ella Fitzgerald from the second hand record shop on the way to the Grafton Centre.
  • I trawled through the accounts for the last three years to see where it had gone and found a host of different funds, all with balances.
  • Cynically, I could say their set list had a slight stench of predictability as they trawled through singles off both albums, finishing with the better known hits but leaving out a lot of their trademark experimentation.


1An act of fishing with a trawl net or seine: they had caught two trout on the lazy trawl up-lake
More example sentences
  • We can restrict the numbers of our own boats, we can insist that they have scientists, scientists monitoring the trawl and we can ban the pair trawling within our own waters.
  • They've started doing some trawls as they approached the sea mounts, so yesterday they ran a net at 1.3 kilometres deep in an area of open ocean that was 3.6 kilometres deep.
  • They spend most of their time half-buried in the sand, and are thus particularly liable to be taken by trawls.
1.1 (also trawl net) A large wide-mouthed fishing net dragged by a boat along the bottom of the sea or a lake.
Example sentences
  • Whereas a trawl net has to be fairly solid because it's being dragged through the water behind a large vessel, so they tend to be quite distinctive.
  • The trawl net is like a long bag, and dragged underwater behind the trawler for about four hours.
  • When I dived the Borgny, an old trawl net was draped round the stern along the seabed.
2A thorough search: a constant trawl for information
More example sentences
  • If my trawl is indicative, net cruisers must grow mighty frustrated.
  • We have had a quick trawl through the Net and come up with a nice, safe, lovely Thanksgiving site.
  • At the moment I'm having a lazy trawl thru the Sunday papers but no dice yet…
3 (also trawl line) North American A long sea-fishing line along which are tied buoys supporting baited hooks on short lines.
Example sentences
  • It is a sophisticated fishing tool, the programme allows the skipper to superimpose trawling drags and scallop grounds onto a computer map on the screen in front of him, using shading and coloured lines to distinguish different trawls.
  • And so we worked away for several hours, Kirk navigating the boat and hauling the trawls with the hydraulic winch, Tom hooking the trawl lines, and me trying to neither get in the way nor appear completely useless.
  • Once there, they fanned out in two-man dories to set trawls, longlines studded with multiple baited hooks, for cod and halibut.


Mid 16th century (as a verb): probably from Middle Dutch traghelen 'to drag' (related to traghel 'dragnet'), perhaps from Latin tragula 'dragnet'.

Words that rhyme with trawl

all, appal (US appall), awl, Bacall, ball, bawl, befall, Bengal, brawl, call, caul, crawl, Donegal, drawl, drywall, enthral (US enthrall), fall, forestall, gall, Galle, Gaul, hall, haul, maul, miaul, miscall, Montreal, Naipaul, Nepal, orle, pall, Paul, pawl, Saul, schorl, scrawl, seawall, Senegal, shawl, small, sprawl, squall, stall, stonewall, tall, thrall, wall, waul, wherewithal, withal, yawl

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