Don’t worry, I was just kidding—everyone knows Wonderopolis is anything but orderly. But if that opening sounded familiar, you may be picturing a judge rapping a tiny hammer on a piece of wood and yelling, “Order in the court!”
That tiny hammer is called a gavel. It’s typically made of wood and paired with a base on which it can be hit. Why do judges use gavels? To maintain order in the courtroom, of course! After all, emotions can run high during a trial. If the gavel comes out, it’s because the judge is asking for things to quiet down.
However, movies and courtroom dramas have given many people the wrong impression. Contrary to popular belief, judges don’t use gavels all that often. They’re more likely to use their voices to quiet a room.
However, there are a few other places in which those tiny hammers are put to use. One example is in clubs and organizations. Many of these use a gavel to signal the beginning or end of a group meeting.
Are you wondering about the history of gavels? It’s a bit mysterious. Some believe their use goes all the way back to Medieval England, but no one can say for sure. Still, they were certainly in use by 1789 when John Adams opened the first session of the very first U.S. Senate.
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