Gavel-to-Gavel – Meaning & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

You’ve probably seen or heard the phrase gavel-to-gavel coverage on social media or television. But because the word is new, it can be hard to know its real meaning. I had a vague idea of its meaning, but I actually had to do some research on it.

And now, I’m going to break down the definition of the expression gavel-to-gavel for you. Learn where the adjective comes from and some examples of how to use it in a sentence.

Definition of Gavel-to-Gavel

Gavel to Gavel ngram
Trend of the term Gavel-to-Gavel through the years.

The term gavel-to-gavel is an idiomatic expression. But many dictionaries categorize it as an adjective. Its definition is from the beginning to end of a session or series of sessions, such as a meeting or formal event.

The one-word adjective is separated by hyphens as this is usually the structure of compound adjectives. Words like happy-go-lucky, white-washed, and short-term are other examples.

The earliest use of gavel-to-gavel was in 1968. It comes from the idea that gavels are usually struck during the start and finish of meetings or courtroom sessions.

A gavel is a tiny mallet or hammer that a judge or auctioneer uses to call attention to the audience. This item has a huge symbolic meaning. Old gavels had sharp edges on one side and a hammer-like form on the other, representing authority.

The gavel comes from the Old English word gafol, meaning tribute. Others believe it is a reference to Freemasonry.

In masonry, gavels helped break off rough stones. But in the courtroom, it symbolizes order to break off the noise. Even though gavel-to-gavel has been used in other countries since 1968, the word gavel only first appeared in the US during the 1800s.

The striking of the gravel at the beginning and end of a session is common in the appellate court, family court, federal court, and district court. I always think of Judge Judy and her gavel!

Gavel-to-Gavel Coverage

One example of the use of gavel-to-gavel is in the phrase gavel-to-gavel coverage. This is used in media broadcasts or live proceedings of meetings, court trials, etc.

How to Use Gavel-to-Gavel in a Sentence

Here are a few ways to use gavel-to-gavel in a sentence.

  • The state does not allow gavel-to-gavel coverage of trials. It only allows portions, such as openings, closings, and sentencing.
  • I think it’s unreasonable for media companies to provide gavel-to-gavel coverage of domestic violence trials.
  • I was in charge of airing the first three sessions gavel-to-gavel.
  • A Nevada state court jury heard opening statements Friday in a trial to determine the amount owed to a woman who suffered spinal injuries after a FedEx truck rear-ended her car, and the proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel via Courtroom View Network. [CVN]

The Gist of Gavel-to-Gavel

This guide has explained the definition of gavel-to-gavel. It means from the beginning to the end of a formal session. The expression comes from the idea that judges usually strike a gavel at the start and finish of a courtroom meeting.

Use the adjective gavel-to-gavel when describing a webcast or telecast of legislative sessions, court trials, and other formal events.