General English

  • noun a tool for making holes in a hard substance such as wood or metal
  • noun the action of practising marching, especially in the armed forces
  • verb to use a drill to make a hole in something
  • verb to teach someone something by making them do or say it many times

General Science

  • noun a tool, often electrically powered, for making holes in metal, wood or other hard material


  • noun an implement used to sow seed. A drill consists of a hopper carried on wheels, with a feed mechanism which feeds the seed into seed tubes.
  • noun a little furrow for sowing seed


  • noun a short series of actions carried out in a particular sequence

Cars & Driving

  • noun a usually power-driven tool for making holes in metal, wood, plastic, etc., with a chuck that will accept bits of different sizes


  • A hand-held, manually operated or power-driven rotary tool for boring holes in construction materials.
  • A large machine capable of drilling 4" diameter blast holes 100' deep in rock cuts or quarries.
  • A machine capable of taking core samples in rock or earth.


  • noun a tool which rotates very rapidly to make a hole, especially a surgical instrument used in dentistry to remove caries


  • verb to teach a routine procedure through repeated practice


  • verb to make holes in the margins of leaves for loose-leaf binding


  • verb to sleep. A middle-class and public-school term deriving from the phrase ‘blanket drill’, a facetious army expression for sleeping.
  • verb to shoot (usually to kill). A now dated Americanism adopted by crime and western movies and fiction.
  • verb to have sex with. A rare usage on the same pattern as screw.


  • noun a sequence of tasks or exercises repeated over and over until they can be performed faultlessly, as used in teaching sports skills
  • verb to make someone repeat a sequence of exercises or procedures over and over again in order to learn it

Origin & History of “drill”

English has no fewer than four separate words drill, all of them comparatively recent acquisitions. Drill ‘make a hole’ (16th c.) was borrowed from middle Dutch drillen, but beyond that is history is obscure. The word’s military application, to ‘repetitive training’, dates from earliest times, and also existed in the Dutch verb in the 16th century; it seems to have originated as a metaphorical extension of the notion of ‘turning round’ – that is, of troops marching around in circles. Drill ‘small furrow for sowing seeds’ (18th c.) may come from the now obsolete noun drill ‘rivulet’, but the origins of this are purely conjectural: some have linked it with the obsolete verb drill ‘trickle’. Drill ‘strong fabric’ (18th c.) gets its name from originally being woven from three threads. An earlier form of the word was drilling, an adaptation of German drillich; this in turn was descended from Latin trilix, a compound formed from tri- ‘three’ and līcium ‘thread’ (trellis is a doublet, coming ultimately from the same Latin source). (cloth woven from two threads, incidentally, is twill (14th c.), or alternatively – from Greek dímitos – dimity (15th c.).) Drill ‘African baboon’ (17th c.) comes from a west African word. It occurs also in the compound mondrill (18th c.), the name of a related baboon, which appears to have been formed with English man.