AskDefine | Define funnel

Dictionary Definition



1 a conical shape with a wider and a narrower opening at the two ends [syn: funnel shape]
2 a conically shaped utensil having a narrow tube at the small end; used to channel the flow of substances into a container with a small mouth
3 (nautical) smokestack consisting of a shaft for ventilation or the passage of smoke (especially the smokestack of a ship) v : move or pour through a funnel; "funnel the liquid into the small bottle" [also: funnelling, funnelled]

User Contributed Dictionary



funel, fonel, probably through Old French. fr, L.
fundibulum, infundibulum, funnel, fr. infundere; in + fundere; compare Armor. founil, W. ffynel. See fuse.




  1. A vessel of the shape of an inverted hollow cone, terminating below in a pipe, and used for conveying liquids etc. into a close vessel; a tunnel.
  2. A passage or avenue for a fluid or flowing substance; specifically, a smoke flue or pipe; the chimney of a steamship or the like.

Derived terms


vessel used to pour liquids
passage or avenue for a fluid or flowing substance
to be checked

See also


to funnel
  1. To use a funnel.
  2. To proceed through a narrow gap or passageway akin to a funnel; to narrow or condense.
    Expect delays where the traffic funnels down to one lane.

Extensive Definition

A funnel is a pipe with a wide, often conical mouth and a narrow stem. It is used to channel liquid or fine-grained substances into containers with a small opening. Without a funnel, much spillage would occur.
Funnels are usually made of stainless steel, glass, or plastic. The material used in its construction should be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the substance being transferred, and it should not react with the substance. For this reason, stainless steel or glass are useful in transferring diesel, while plastic funnels are useful in the kitchen. Sometimes disposable paper funnels are used in cases where it would be difficult to adequately clean the funnel afterwards (for example, in adding motor oil to a car). Dropper funnels, also called dropping funnels or tap funnels, have a tap to allow the controlled release of a liquid.
The term "funnel" is sometimes used to refer to the chimney or smokestack on a steam locomotive or a ship. There is also a type of spider known as a funnel-web due to its habit of building its web in the shape of a funnel. The term "funnel" is even applied to other seemingly strange objects like a smoking pipe or even a humble kitchen bin.

Laboratory funnels

There are many different kinds of funnels that have been adapted for specialized applications in the laboratory. Filter funnels, thistle funnels (shaped like thistle flowers), and dropping funnels have stopcocks which allow the fluids to be added to a flask slowly. For solids, a powder funnel with a wide and short stem is more appropriate as it does not clog easily.
When used with filter paper, filter funnels, Buchner and Hirsch funnels can be used to remove fine particles from a liquid in a process called filtration. For more demanding applications, the filter paper in the latter two may be replaced with a sintered glass frit.


Glass is the material of choice for laboratory applications due to its inertness compared with metals or plastics. However, plastic funnels made of unreactive polyethylene are used for transferring aqueous solutions. Plastic is most often used for powder funnels which do not come into contact with solvent in normal use.

In culture

The inverted funnel is a symbol of madness. It appears in many Medieval depictions of the mad. For example in Hieronymus Bosch's The Ship of Fools and The Allegory of Gluttony and Lust.
In popular culture, the Tin Woodman in L. Frank Baum's classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (and in most dramatizations of it) uses an inverted funnel for a hat, though that is never specifically mentioned in the story - it originated in W.W. Denslow's original illustrations for the book.

See also

External links

funnel in Catalan: Embut
funnel in German: Trichter
funnel in Spanish: Embudo
funnel in French: Entonnoir
funnel in Lombard: Pedrioeu
funnel in Dutch: Trechter
funnel in Japanese: 漏斗
funnel in Norwegian: Trakt
funnel in Norwegian Nynorsk: Trekt
funnel in Polish: Lejek (sprzęt laboratoryjny)
funnel in Russian: Воронка
funnel in Simple English: Funnel
funnel in Swedish: Tratt
funnel in Chinese: 漏斗
funnel in Hebrew: משפך

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adjutage, approach, asymptote, bottleneck, canalize, carry, catheter, center, centralize, channel, channelize, chimney, close, close in, close up, close with, collision course, come together, complex cone, concenter, concentralization, concentralize, concentrate, concentration, concourse, concurrence, conduct, cone, conelet, confluence, conflux, congress, conoid, converge, convergence, converging, convey, cop, cornet, crossing, drainpipe, efflux tube, fall in with, fire hose, flue, flue pipe, flume, focalization, focus, fumarole, garden hose, gas pipe, hose, hosepipe, hub, ice-cream cone, intersect, meet, meeting, mutual approach, narrow the gap, narrowing gap, nip, nipple, organ pipe, pinch, pine cone, pipe, pipeline, pipette, piping, put through, put through channels, radius, reed, reed pipe, run together, siamese, siamese connection, siphon, smokeshaft, smokestack, snorkel, soil pipe, spokes, stack, standpipe, steam pipe, stem, stovepipe, straw, tangent, tap, taper, traject, transmit, trench, tube, tubing, tubulation, tubule, tubulet, tubulure, unite, waste pipe, water pipe
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