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From Middle English [Term?], from Old French javelline, diminutive of javelot, diminutive of *javel, from Vulgar Latin *gabalus, from Gaulish gabulum (compare Old Irish gabul (fork), Welsh gafl), from Proto-Celtic *gablā (fork, forked branch), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰeh₁bʰ-. The Old French term was also borrowed into Middle Low German as gaveline, and into Middle High German as gabilot. Cognate with gavelock, gaffle.


  • enPR: jăv'lǐn, IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒæv.(ə.)lɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ævlɪn


javelin (plural javelins)

  1. A light spear thrown with the hand and used as a weapon.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Numbers 25:6–8:
      And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
      And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
      And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
    • 1712 (date written), [Joseph] Addison, Cato, a Tragedy. [], London: [] J[acob] Tonson, [], published 1713, OCLC 79426475, Act I, scene i, page 1:
      Flies the javelin swifter to its mark, / Launched by the vigour of a Roman arm?
  2. A metal-tipped spear thrown for distance in an athletic field event.

Derived terms[edit]


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javelin (third-person singular simple present javelins, present participle javelining, simple past and past participle javelined)

  1. (transitive) To pierce with a javelin.

See also[edit]