Definition of gavel in US English:



  • A small mallet with which an auctioneer, a judge, or the chair of a meeting hits a surface to call for attention or order.

    • ‘The judge slams down his gavel and stands up as the audience becomes alive with controversy.’
    • ‘The judge banged his gavel, dismissing the court for lunch.’
    • ‘The judge bangs his gavel and then gets up and exits the courtroom.’
    • ‘When the auctioneer lowered his gavel, the room erupted in applause.’
    • ‘The judge banged on the table again, wielding the gavel like Thor's hammer, this time with a note of finality that echoed in the spacious room.’
    • ‘Then, with a final stroke of his gavel, the auctioneer declared that the auction was over.’
    • ‘There's the buzz of bidding against other interested people, the tension of waiting to see if they'll raise their offer, and the joy of being the winner when the auctioneer bangs his gavel.’
    • ‘The silence was broken by the gavel pounding on the judge's perch.’
    • ‘Weeping family members of deceased on behalf of the accused also wept in joy as the gavel hit and the judge proclaimed that he would not allow another appeal of the case.’
    • ‘For example, when the auctioneer hammers the gavel, a binding contract exists immediately.’
    • ‘He rose from his chair and lifted his gavel, apparently intending to enforce the Senate rule against public demonstrations.’
    • ‘But this isn't a TV drama where the judge bangs down the gavel decisively and victims leap up to the cheers of supporters.’
    • ‘Maybe that's why the young Scottish playwright talks so fast and loose about his work, chattering like a set of joke teeth, spattering out anecdotes and theories like an auctioneer whose own mindset is under the gavel.’
    • ‘I wasn't sure what was happening as the judge banged his gavel on the bench and the court was adjourned.’
    • ‘These golden geese continued to be offered the way they sold best - in real-time sales with glossy printed catalogs and elegant auctioneers wielding polished wooden gavels.’
    • ‘Suddenly everyone was talking at once, and the judge banged his gavel on the desk.’
    • ‘Hushed whispers erupted within the courtroom and the judge slammed his gavel down to bring order once again.’
    • ‘When the auctioneer banged his gavel for the last time, the auction had raised over 100,000 baht.’
    • ‘The judge banged his gavel several times to demand silence, but he couldn't be heard above the noise that was increasing by the minute.’
    • ‘It ended in furore and the mayor had to use her gavel to restore order.’
    mallet, beetle
    View synonyms


  • with object and adverbial Bring (a hearing or person) to order by use of a gavel.

    ‘he gaveled the convention to order’
    • ‘The warning didn't register with one windbag, and the committee members signaled the emcee to gavel the person off the dais.’
    • ‘In fact, it's my understanding that he will gavel the convention to order, sometime late tomorrow afternoon.’
    • ‘Near the end of the morning, after I'd gaveled down dozens of lots of major artwork for big money from a big crowd that nearly filled our Blue Salon, a tiny, minor Renoir came up.’
    • ‘The so-called Vienna Group was ‘gavelling’ each paragraph yesterday afternoon and was to hand the final draft plan to the summit's main committee.’
    • ‘The Chairman of the magistrates gaveled loudly on the block.’
    • ‘The host committee will hold delegation receptions throughout the city on Sunday, Aug.13, the day before the convention is gaveled to order.’
    • ‘The 140-day session gaveled to order last week is no exception.’
    • ‘In Maryland, judges, lawyers, and businesspeople are gaveling out the details of tech court.’
    • ‘With members of Congress itching to gavel their lame duck session to a close, the biggest hurdle remains a catch-all spending bill that's now weeks overdue.’
    • ‘He then announced that no agreement would be possible and gaveled the session to a close.’
    • ‘He gaveled the hearing to a close, intimating that enough light had been shed on the issue to allow him to move forward.’
    • ‘He has gaveled to rest the rumors that he will retire from the U.S. Supreme Court.’
    • ‘The chairman refers the matter to committee and gavels the meeting to a close.’
    • ‘So, why did that 13-year-old girl get to gavel the convention to order earlier this week?’
    • ‘Democrats called in vain for gaveling the vote closed as Republican leaders lobbied their members to switch votes and support the bill.’


Early 19th century (originally US in the sense ‘stonemason's mallet’): of unknown origin.