[ jav-lin, jav-uh- ]
/ ˈdʒæv lɪn, ˈdʒæv ə- /
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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.
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Origin of javelin

1505–15; <Middle French javeline, by suffix alteration from javelot,Anglo-French gavelot, gaveloc, probably <Old English gafeluc, *gafeloc ≪ British 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does javelin mean?

A javelin is the pointed, spearlike pole used in the track-and-field event known as javelin or the javelin throw—in which athletes compete to throw it as far as they can.

The javelin event is one of the “field” events in track and field, which also include other events in which objects are thrown as far as possible, namely discus and shot put. All three are events in the summer Olympic Games (the Summer Games) and are also events in the modern decathlon.

The word javelin also refers to the ancient throwing spear on which the javelin used in the athletic event is based.

Its original military use is referenced in the name of an U.S. military missile system known as Javelin.

Example: I’m training for the javelin and shot put with my track-and-field team.

Where does javelin come from?

The first records of the word javelin come from the 1500s, in reference to the weapon. The word comes from the Middle French javelot, probably from the British Celtic gablākos, which likely meant something like “forked spear.”

The sport of javelin throwing evolved from the ancient use of spears for hunting and warfare. The ancient Greek Olympic Games featured javelin throwing as a part of the five-event competition known as the pentathlon. The javelin throw was adopted into the modern Olympic Games in 1908, and has been included in every Summer Olympics since. A women’s javelin event was added to the Olympics in 1932.

Under modern javelin rules, the javelin must land point-first, but it does not need to stick into the ground in order for the throw to count.

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What are some synonyms for javelin?

  • javelin throw (in reference to the event)
  • spear

What are some words that share a root or word element with javelin

What are some words that often get used in discussing javelin?

How is javelin used in real life?

Most people are familiar with the javelin as a track-and-field event at the Summer Olympics.

Try using javelin!

True or False? 

For a javelin attempt to count, the javelin must stick into the ground.

How to use javelin in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for javelin

/ (ˈdʒævlɪn) /

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 for javelin

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