Definition of pawl in English:


Line breaks: pawl
Pronunciation: /pɔːl


1A pivoted curved bar or lever whose free end engages with the teeth of a cogwheel or ratchet so that the wheel or ratchet can only turn or move one way.
More example sentences
  • The drive mechanism may comprise a ratchet and pawl.
  • He calls it the pawl, a proper engineering term to go with ratchet.
  • Watch out, because pawls and pawl springs can come flying out.
1.1Each of a set of short bars that engage with the whelps and prevent a capstan, windlass, or winch from recoiling.
More example sentences
  • The capstan for raising the anchor was something I hadn't seen before - like a huge rolling pin set across the ship, with wooden pawls to prevent backwards rotation.
  • In the tang of a gathering sea breeze, listening to the click of pawls as winches spun, all the Machiavellian intrigue faded.


early 17th century: perhaps from Low German and Dutch pal (related to pal 'fixed').

Definition of pawl in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day oleaginous
Pronunciation: ˌəʊlɪˈadʒɪnəs
rich in, covered with, or producing oil; oily