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noun (1)

gav·​el ˈga-vəl How to pronounce gavel (audio)
: rent or tribute in medieval England


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noun (2)

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


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gaveled or gavelled; gaveling or gavelling ˈga-v(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce gavel (audio)

transitive verb

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

Examples of gavel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Around the nation, with the #MeToo movement still fresh on voters' minds, Democrats picked up a total of 41 House seats — largely attributed to a score of passionate female candidates determined to narrow the representation gap and return the speaker's gavel to Nancy Pelosi. Kyler Alvord, Peoplemag, 9 May 2024 Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday easily batted down an attempt by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to oust him from his post, after Democrats linked arms with most Republicans to fend off a second attempt by G.O.P. hard-liners to strip the gavel from their party leader. Kayla Guo, New York Times, 8 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for gavel 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gavel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

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

Noun (2)

origin unknown

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near gavel

Cite this Entry

“Gavel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the mallet of an officer in charge of a meeting or of an auctioneer

More from Merriam-Webster on gavel

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