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ratchet and pawl

ratchet and pawl, mechanical device that permits motion in one direction only. The ratchet is usually a wheel with slanting teeth. The pawl is a lever tangential to the wheel with one end resting on the teeth. When the wheel rotates one way, the pawl slides over the teeth when the wheel rotates the other way, the pawl catches in the teeth.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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