the forward part of the body of a motor vehicle supporting the rear of the hood and the windshield and housing the pedals and instrument panel.

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a wire netting fastened to the top of the smokestack of a locomotive to prevent large sparks from being discharged; a spark arrester.
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before 1000; Middle English cou(e)le,Old English cugele, cūlecuculla monk's hood, variant of Latin cucullus hood
Cowichan sweater, cowinner, cowitch, cowk, cow killer, cowl, cowled, Cowley, cowlick, cow lily, cowling

A cowl is a hood, especially a loose one. The hooded robe worn by some monks is called a cowl.

Cowl is also used to refer to several objects that function as hoods, such as parts of some vehicles and the coverings at the top of chimneys. It can also be used as a verb meaning to cover something. More specifically, it can mean to make someone a monk.

Example: The monk donned his cowl and left his bunk for morning prayer.


The first records of cowl come from before 1000. It comes from the Middle English coule, which derives from the Late Latin cuculla, meaning “monk’s hood.” This is a variant of the Latin cucullus, simply meaning “hood.”

Monks have known for wearing hooded robes for a long time, and the association between monks and their cowls continues today. The hood on a monk’s robe is often loose, causing it to drape around the face. When we call a hood a cowl, we’re often referring to one in this style. In fashion design, a cowl refers to a part of a shirt or dress that’s draped near the neck in a way that resembles a monk’s cowl.

In a chimney, the cowl is the hoodlike covering at the very top, above the opening, that helps with ventilation. Cowl is also used as the name of a similar object attached to the top of a locomotive’s smokestack to prevent sparks from flying everywhere (it’s also called a spark arrester).

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In a car, you know what the hood is. Well, the part that supports the hood (and the windshield) is called the cowl. In aircraft, the cowl (or cowling) is a housing or removable covering for the engine.