late 15c., from Middle French javeline (15c.), fem. diminutive of Old French javelot "a spear" (12c.), probably from Gaulish or another Celtic source (compare Old Irish gabul "fork;" Welsh gafl "fork," gaflach "feathered spear"), from Celtic *gablakko-, from PIE *ghabholo- "a fork, branch of a tree." Also found in Italian (giavelotto) and Middle High German (gabilot). Javelot itself was borrowed in Middle English (mid-15c.), but this is the form of the word that has endured.