noun (1)
gav·​el | \ ˈga-vəl How to pronounce gavel (audio) \

Definition of gavel

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: rent or tribute in medieval England


noun (2)

Definition of gavel (Entry 2 of 3)

: a mallet used (as by a presiding officer or auctioneer) for commanding attention or confirming an action (such as a vote or sale)


gaveled or gavelled; gaveling or gavelling\ ˈgav-​liŋ How to pronounce gavelling (audio) , ˈga-​və-​ \

Definition of gavel (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to bring or force by use of a gavel gaveled the audience to silence

First Known Use of gavel

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1835, in the meaning defined above


1925, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gavel

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English gafol; akin to Old English giefan to give

Noun (2)

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gavel

Time Traveler for gavel

Time Traveler

The first known use of gavel was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for gavel

Cite this Entry

“Gavel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gavel


gav·​el | \ ˈga-vəl How to pronounce gavel (audio) \

Kids Definition of gavel

: a mallet with which the person in charge raps to get people's attention in a meeting or courtroom

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on gavel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gavel

Spanish Central: Translation of gavel

Nglish: Translation of gavel for Spanish Speakers

Comments on gavel

What made you want to look up gavel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!