1. work done with a tool or tools; tooled ornamentation, as on wood, stone, or leather.
  2. Machinery.
    1. a number of tools, as in a particular factory.
    2. the planning and arrangement of tools for a particular manufacturing process.


  1. an implement, especially one held in the hand, as a hammer, saw, or file, for performing or facilitating mechanical operations.
  2. any instrument of manual operation.
  3. the cutting or machining part of a lathe, planer, drill, or similar machine.
  4. the machine itself; a machine tool.
  5. anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose: Education is a tool for success.
  6. a person manipulated by another for the latter’s own ends; cat’s-paw.
  7. the design or ornament impressed upon the cover of a book.
  8. Underworld Slang.
    1. a pistol or gun.
    2. a pickpocket.
  9. Slang: Vulgar. penis.

verb (used with object)

  1. to work or shape with a tool.
  2. to work decoratively with a hand tool.
  3. to ornament (the cover of a book) with a bookbinder’s tool.
  4. to drive (a vehicle): He tooled the car along the treacherous path.
  5. to equip with tools or machinery.

verb (used without object)

  1. to work with a tool.
  2. to drive or ride in a vehicle: tooling along the freeway.

Verb Phrases

  1. tool up, to install machinery designed for performing a particular job: manufacturers tooling up for production.


  1. any decorative work done with a tool, esp a design stamped onto a book cover, piece of leatherwork, etc
  2. the selection, provision, and setting up of tools, esp for a machining operation


    1. an implement, such as a hammer, saw, or spade, that is used by hand
    2. a power-driven instrument; machine tool
    3. (in combination)a toolkit
  1. the cutting part of such an instrument
    1. any of the instruments used by a bookbinder to impress a design on a book cover
    2. a design so impressed
  2. anything used as a means of performing an operation or achieving an endhe used his boss’s absence as a tool for gaining influence
  3. a person used to perform dishonourable or unpleasant tasks for another
  4. a necessary medium for or adjunct to one’s professionnumbers are the tools of the mathematician’s trade
  5. slang another word for penis
  6. British an underworld slang word for gun


  1. to work, cut, shape, or form (something) with a tool or tools
  2. (tr) to decorate (a book cover) with a bookbinder’s tool
  3. (tr often foll by up) to furnish with tools
  4. (when intr, often foll by along) to drive (a vehicle) or (of a vehicle) to be driven, esp in a leisurely or casual style

Old English tol “instrument, implement,” from Proto-Germanic *tolan (cf. Old Norse tol), from a verb stem represented by Old English tawian “prepare.” The ending is the instrumental suffix -l (e.g. shovel). Figurative sense of “person used by another for his own ends” is recorded from 1660s. Slang meaning “penis” first recorded 1550s.


“to drive a vehicle,” 1812, probably from tool (n.). The meaning “to work or shape with a tool” is recorded from 1815; that of “equip (a factory) with machine tools” is from 1927. Related: Tooled; tooling.

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