Definition of lance in English:



  • 1A long weapon with a wooden shaft and a pointed steel head, formerly used by a horseman in charging.

    ‘the warriors bore lances tipped with iron or steel’
    • ‘Men of the armies fought with double-edged swords, battle-axes, lances, slings, and weapons of archery.’
    • ‘They wore chain mail into battle, used a lance, sword or mace to fight with and rode horses that were bred to carry such a weight at speed.’
    • ‘Sir Anthony held the crown out on the tip of his lance.’
    • ‘Around me were swords and arrows, lances and spears, weapons of all kinds, even ones I had never seen before.’
    • ‘Seventy-five thousand horsemen armed with long lances came crashing out of the woods.’
    spear, pike, javelin, bayonet, shaft
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    1. 1.1 A weapon resembling a lance used in hunting fish or whales.
      • ‘He could sink that harpoon 3 feet into a whale and once fast it was not long before he was on the whale's back driving the lance 6 feet into its vitals.’
      • ‘Stubb takes after it in the process of pitchpoling; with a long lance, connected to a length of rope, he darts the whale, then pulls the lance back, and repeats the process.’
      • ‘The harpoon is a metal lance that is blasted out of the ship's harpoon gun by old-fashioned black powder.’
    2. 1.2
      another term for lancer (sense 1)
  • 2usually with modifier A metal pipe supplying a jet of oxygen to a furnace or to make a very hot flame for cutting.

    • ‘Five basic processes are involved: oxy fuel gas cutting, metal powder cutting, chemical flux cutting, oxygen lance cutting, and oxygen arc cutting.’
    • ‘In the open hearth process an oxygen lance is arranged to blow large volumes of oxygen onto the molten metal in the hearth.’
    • ‘The specific areas of the sample selected for ablation are subjected to a burst of laser light, which acts like a microscopic thermal lance, to vaporise a tiny spot on the surface just 0.02 millimetre wide.’
  • 3A rigid tube at the end of a hose for pumping or spraying liquid.

    • ‘The water to the lance is maintained at a high pressure, resulting in a powerful, fast jet of water.’
    • ‘This is one of those things where you drop a coin in the slot and then use a brush and a power spray, both on long lances attached to pressure hoses.’
    • ‘He had borrowed the jet washer from his brother Alfred, who told the inquest he had modified it by replacing a plastic lance with a metal one.’
    • ‘The liquid nitrogen injection station consists of a liquid nitrogen lance, which is moved in and out of the ready-mix truck drum using a pneumatic cylinder.’
    • ‘A pneumatically operated ball valve controls the flow of liquid nitrogen through each lance, and the entire process is sequenced from a pushbutton control panel.’


[with object]Medicine
  • 1Prick or cut open (an abscess or boil) with a lancet or other sharp instrument.

    ‘abscesses should not be lanced until there is a soft spot in the centre’
    figurative ‘the prime minister made it one of his priorities to lance the boil of corruption’
    • ‘Because supplies were scarce, doctors did not have anesthetic to numb this patient before lancing a boil that had been causing him problems for more than a year.’
    • ‘I told the parents that the infant was very ill and the abscess should be lanced.’
    • ‘They also calculate that by lancing the boil now the issue will soon be over with.’
    • ‘Suggested treatment for small, intact blisters is to remove the blister contents by needle aspiration or to lance the blister at its base but leave a pedicle of attachment.’
    • ‘The pustule was lanced and cultured and subsequently grew Haemophihis species.’
    • ‘The checkpoints come every 12 miles or so and provide an opportunity for walkers to change clothes, eat, lance blisters and brush your teeth (it really helps).’
    cut, cut into, make an incision in, slit, slit open
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    1. 1.1 Pierce with or as if with a lance.
      ‘the teenager had been lanced by a wooden splinter’
      no object ‘pain lanced through her’
      • ‘He felt a jolt of fear lance through his gut but managed to keep his voice level.’
      • ‘And I now have the breathe control to lance two fish on the same spear with one breathe of air.’
      • ‘One of the animals has already been lanced and is about to fall to the ground.’
      • ‘To the west the clouds appeared black and rolls of thunder boomed like familiar cannon fire while lightning lanced the empty ground.’
      • ‘When Newton had the institutional authority to do so, he lanced some of his colleagues ferociously and mercilessly.’
      • ‘At the bottom, she jumped up and felt pain lance through her right knee.’
      • ‘There General Patton's American armour lanced its way into Nazi-held territory while the Brits fought a slower-paced battle into the Rhineland.’
      • ‘‘Go ask the boy,’ you mutter, lancing Michael with a cold glare.’
      • ‘That team was distinct from the fluid, fleet-footed one that lanced Livingston the week before.’
      • ‘Slowly, stubbornly ignoring the excruciating pain that lanced my spine, I turned my face toward the wall.’
      • ‘She smiled, but a pang of sorrow lanced her heart.’
      • ‘Other arguments against same-sex marriage were similarly lanced by the judge.’
      • ‘A hissing sound escaped the creature as burning heat lanced his palms.’
      • ‘I turned to Luke, looking down at his beautiful, sleepy face and feeling a stab of pain lance through me.’
      • ‘According to local legend, the killer whales would even guide the tiny whale boats out to the hunt so that the whalers could harpoon and lance the harassed animal.’
      • ‘To harvest opium from a poppy, a farmer waits until the last petals of the flower have fallen off and then lances the seed pod, taking care not to cut too deep.’
      • ‘He lanced each patron of the tavern with his soul chilling gaze, brown and gray flecked hair framing his face.’
      • ‘Too late, he saw a flash out of the corner of his eye, and felt a stinging pain lance along his back.’
      • ‘Ten days after the poppy blooms the resin is extracted by lancing the pods.’
      • ‘‘But I did’, she said, a bitingly anxious tone lancing her own thoughts.’
      cut, cut open, slit, incise, puncture, prick, nick, notch, pierce, stab, skewer, spike
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    2. 1.2no object, with adverbial of direction Move suddenly and quickly.
      ‘he lanced through Harlequins' midfield to score Swansea's lone try’
      • ‘Her footsteps echoed loudly as she shuffled across the foyer, dimly lit by the beams of moonlight lancing across the shiny floor.’
      • ‘Sharp beams of sunlight lanced through the lush foliage, acute needles on her bare shoulders.’
      • ‘Soft candlelight from the hallway played upon the slumbering girl, shining on her hair, and lancing off her stark, milky-white shoulders.’
      • ‘A buzzard dropped down to watch, a heavy twin-rotor helicopter thudded over, a jet lanced through, and a gamekeeper rolled past in a 4x4, that was the traffic for the day.’
      • ‘He began firing wildly, his silenced rounds lancing out, and hitting the wall all around the terrorists.’
      • ‘He ducked down as two more shots lanced past him.’
      • ‘Carpenter motioned Matthew and Smith to enter first and they did so, their gun-mounted lights lancing through the remaining dust suspended in the dry, stale air of the passage.’
      • ‘Suddenly, red laser beams lanced out from underneath the window.’
    3. 1.3archaic with object Throw; hurl.
      ‘he affirms to have lanced darts at the sun’
      • ‘This is made evident by the fact that young Protestant girls from neighbouring schools also joined in the protest as they lanced verbal assaults at their Catholic peers.’
      • ‘The lights have twinkled on in Lucern, spread below us, lancing golden shafts into the lake.’
      • ‘The torpedo-boat lances one of her horrid needles of steel.’
      • ‘Carmen takes a flower from her corsets and lances it to Don Jose (Duet: ‘Talk me of my mother’).’


Middle English: from Old French lance (noun), lancier (verb), from Latin lancea (noun).