Etymology
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pawl (n.)

"short iron bar acting as a catch or brake preventing a capstan from recoiling" (nautical) 1620s, of unknown origin; perhaps from French pal "stake" [OED] or épaule "shoulder" [Klein]. Extended to similar devices in other machinery.

updated on March 03, 2020

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Definitions of pawl from WordNet

pawl (n.)
a hinged catch that fits into a notch of a ratchet to move a wheel forward or prevent it from moving backward;
Synonyms: detent / click / dog
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.