A shovel is a tool for lifting and moving loose material such as coal, gravel, snow, dirt, or sand. It is usually a hand tool consisting of a broad blade with edges or sides that is fixed to a medium-length handle. The term "shovel" is also applied to larger excavating machines, such as steam shovels, which are designed for the same purpose—lifting and moving material, see Loader (equipment).
Hand shovels have been adapted for many different tasks and environments. They can be optimized for a single task or designed as cross-over or compromise tools to perform multiple tasks. For example:
- A coal shovel typically has a wide, flat blade with steeply turned sides, a flat face and a short D-shaped handle.
- A snowshovel often has a very wide sideless blade that curves upward attached to a long, straight handle. It is designed as much for pushing the snow as for lifting it.
- A spade is designed primarily for breaking up ("spading") clumps of soil. A spade usually has a point and is designed to be pushed into the soil with a foot. Spade blades usually have a rounded face without sharply upturned sides.
- A gardening trowel is a small single-hand implement for breaking up clumps in soil. Gardening trowels typically have strong, narrow blades with sharp points.
- An entrenching tool is a collapsible shovel designed for the military. It may have a spade-like point or even serrated edges for secondary use as an axe.
The traffic signs warning of a Work zone or Construction site generally show a person operating a shovel.