A metal tool with a sharp beveled edge, used to cut and shape stone, wood, or metal.
v. chis·eled, chis·el·ing, chis·els or chis·elled or chis·el·ling
1. To shape or cut with a chisel.
a. To cheat or swindle.
b. To obtain by deception.
1. To use a chisel.
a. To use unethical methods; cheat: "who's up, who's down and who's chiseling on the side" (James Reston).
b. To intrude oneself without welcome: always tries to chisel in on our conversations.
[Middle English, from Old French cisiel, from Vulgar Latin *cīsellus, cutting tool, from diminutive of Latin caesus, past participle of caedere, to cut; see kaə-id- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)chisel
left: cold metal chisel with a flat head
top to bottom: cape, round-nose, and diamond-point metal chisel heads
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.