A javelin is a heavy spear designed primarily to be thrown, historically as a ranged weapon, but today predominantly for sport. The javelin is almost always thrown by hand, unlike the bow and arrow and slingshot, which shoot projectiles from a mechanism. However, hurling devices do exist to assist the javelin thrower in achieving greater distance.
The word javelin comes from Middle English and it derives from Old French javelin, a diminutive of javelot, which meant spear. The word javelot probably originated from one of the Celtic languages.