A trowel is a tool for digging small holes or spreading plaster. If you're an avid gardener (or an apprentice bricklayer), you probably own a trowel.
Gardeners use trowels to dig shallow troughs for planting seeds, bulbs, or small plants. Gardening trowels are basically small shovels. When you're building a stone wall or grouting tile, your trowel will look a bit different—it will be flatter and possibly triangular in shape. The Late Latin source of trowel, truella, means "small ladle or dipper."