Meaning of pawl in English:



  • 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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Replace springs and pawls, put 10-20 drops of oil into the freehub and reassemble.’
    • ‘Pushing this button pushes the spring to one side, retracting the pawl from the bit opening.’
    1. 1.1Each of a set of short bars that engage with the whelps and prevent a capstan, windlass, or winch from recoiling.
      ‘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’).