a pivoted bar adapted to engage with the teeth of a ratchet wheel or the like so as to prevent movement or to impart motion.
verb (used with object)
to check or hold with a pawl.

1620–30; < Dutch pal ratchet Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pawl (pɔːl)
a pivoted lever shaped to engage with a ratchet wheel to prevent motion in a particular direction
[C17: perhaps from Dutch pal pawl]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
The pawl is a safety device which, when engaged, allows the basket to be raised but not lowered.
Incorrect steel was used on the latch connector locking pawl.
As a result, the pawl can crack allowing the seat base to detach from the vehicle's latch anchors during a severe crash.
When engaged, the pawl is elf-locking due to its pivot location.
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