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trawl / trôl/ • v. [intr.] fish with a trawl net or seine: the boats trawled for flounder | [as n.] (trawling) restrictions on excessive trawling were urgently needed. ∎  [tr.] catch with a trawl net. ∎  sift through as part of a search: they trawled through twenty-five-year-old confidential files| [tr.] he trawled his memory and remembered locking the door. ∎  [tr.] drag or trail (something) through water or other liquid: she trawled a toe to test the temperature. • n. 1. an act of fishing with a trawl net: they had caught two trout on the lazy trawl. ∎  an act of sifting through something as part of a search: we did a trawl of supermarkets and health-food stores a constant trawl for information. 2. (also trawl net) a large wide-mouthed fishing net dragged by a vessel along the bottom or in the midwater of the sea or a lake. 3. (also trawl line) another term for long line.