a large piece of cloth worn by a woman around the shoulders or head, or wrapped around a baby Word Origin early 17th cent.: from Urdu and Persian šāl, probably from Shāliāt, the name of a town in India.Extra examples Ellianne wrapped the shawl around her shoulders. Ruth draped a shawl over her shoulders. She pulled her shawl about her protectively. She was wearing a shawl tied around her waist.