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[jav-lin, jav-uh-] /ˈdʒæv lɪn, ˈdʒæv ə-/
a light spear, usually thrown by hand.
  1. a spearlike shaft about 8½ feet (2.7 meters) long and usually made of wood, used in throwing for distance.
  2. Also called javelin throw. a competitive field event in which the javelin is thrown for distance.
verb (used with object)
to strike or pierce with or as if with a javelin.
Origin of javelin
1505-15; < Middle French javeline, by suffix alteration from javelot, Anglo-French gavelot, gaveloc, probably < Old English gafeluc, *gafelocBritish Celtic *gablākos presumably, a spear with a forklike head; compare MIr gablach forked branch, javelin, MWelsh gaflach (apparently < OIr), derivative of Old Irish gabul fork, forked branch, cognate with Old Breton gabl, Welsh gafl Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for javelin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In addition, they are taught to shoot with the bow and to fling the javelin.

    Cyropaedia Xenophon
  • And here we will state shortly the most effective method of hurling the javelin.

    On Horsemanship Xenophon
  • But not in words does the Trojan hero frame his reply: for he hurls his javelin at the foe.

  • The monarch rose in his car and whirled a javelin at the gates.

    The Infernal Marriage Benjamin Disraeli
  • They attempted to withdraw the javelin, but could not move it.

  • A javelin had pierced its shoulder and fastened it to a great tree.

    The Magic World Edith Nesbit
British Dictionary definitions for javelin


a long pointed spear thrown as a weapon or in competitive field events
the javelin, the event or sport of throwing the javelin
Word Origin
C16: from Old French javeline, variant of javelot, of Celtic origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for javelin

late 15c., from Middle French javeline (15c.), fem. diminutive of Old French javelot "a spear," probably from Gaulish (cf. Old Irish gabul "fork;" Welsh gafl "fork," gaflach "feathered spear"), ultimately from PIE *ghabholo- "a fork, branch of a tree." Also found in Italian (giavelotto) and Middle High German (gabilot). Javelot also was borrowed in Middle English, but this is the form of the word that has endured.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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