Definition of mettle in English:



mass noun
  • A person's ability to cope well with difficulties; spirit and resilience.

    ‘the team showed their true mettle in the second half’
    • ‘The event, promised to be a grand show, will see a display of grit, zeal and mettle.’
    • ‘He had to find his mettle as a leader, and he quickly realised that musical talent was not enough.’
    • ‘The politicians, both those who hold office and others who aspire to displace them, are yet to show such mettle.’
    • ‘I cannot say I am confident every jellyfish that has held the post since then would have shown the same mettle.’
    • ‘The children also proved their mettle in reciting popular Tamil poetry.’
    • ‘But where the program really shows its mettle is in the certification requirement.’
    • ‘Although Kelly presents herself as uncomplicated and cheerful, every so often the public glimpse her true mettle.’
    • ‘Even computers were not left behind and an entire roomful of youngsters showed their mettle with the gadgets.’
    • ‘He can start by showing mettle and reversing the decision to hold a public inquiry.’
    • ‘The true mettle of the new British system won't be apparent until it's tested in a crisis.’
    • ‘Securing the future of Social Security is a vital test of the current Congress' mettle.’
    • ‘This woman of steel has proved her mettle many a time, in her feisty battle with the judiciary and opposition.’
    • ‘I am pretty sure he means resources, mettle and grit but the point is well-made.’
    • ‘It is the closest that the PGA Tour has come to links conditions, the ultimate test of a golfer's mettle and patience.’
    • ‘This is really the basis of assessing character, where people show their true mettle.’
    • ‘Give some of the youngsters in the bank a chance to show their mettle.’
    • ‘Finally now he is ready to test his mettle at the place where the spirit of Olympics was born: Greece.’
    • ‘But they better show their mettle, given that reunification is around the corner.’
    • ‘It will take sterner tests before we see the true mettle of these Mayo players.’
    • ‘Carnatic musicians today have more avenues to prove their mettle than artistes in general had even a few years ago.’
    spirit, fortitude, tenacity, strength of character, moral fibre, steel, determination, resolve, resolution, steadfastness, indomitability, backbone, hardihood, pluck, nerve, gameness, courage, courageousness, bravery, gallantry, valour, intrepidity, fearlessness, boldness, daring, audacity
    calibre, character, disposition, nature, temperament, temper, personality, make-up, stamp, kind, sort, variety, mould, kidney, grain
    View synonyms


  • be on one's mettle

    • Be ready or forced to do one's best in a demanding situation.

      ‘Saturday's game will be a tricky one and we'll have to be on our mettle from the start’
      • ‘But they are going very well so we have to be on our mettle’
      • ‘They will need to be on their mettle again to hold out the talented Stars attack.’
      • ‘After the first-half performance it is not a bad point because no matter who you are playing against you have got to be on your mettle for 90 minutes.’
      • ‘Turning around at 10-0, York knew that they had to be on their mettle to defend their lead against a determined Cleckheaton side now playing with the slight slope of the pitch and the benefit of the wind.’
      • ‘On the back of the last debacle in the east of the country one would have thought it would have been incumbent on any authority to be on their mettle and perform better.’
      • ‘As someone who has hitherto needed to reject one thing before moving on to another, Juliet is on her mettle, and she knows it.’
      • ‘York were on their mettle from the off and led 22-13 at the five ends stage with two rinks winning and two rinks drawing.’
      • ‘Everyone's playing for their place and has to be on their mettle at all times.’
      • ‘So far they have beaten teams from the bottom two sections and are clearly in fine fettle at the moment, but they will need to be on their mettle on Sunday.’
      • ‘The crowd at the Halton Stadium can be a vociferous lot anyway, so we will have to be on our mettle.’
  • put someone on their mettle

    • (of a demanding situation) test someone's ability to face difficulties.

      ‘there were regular public meetings where local MPs were put on their mettle and remorselessly pilloried’
      • ‘This way of thinking was made explicit only when critics such as Vincenzo Borghini were put on their mettle to defend the Baptistery's antiquity.’
      • ‘Coventry's opening was brisk and sufficiently to the point to put Tottenham on their mettle.’


Mid 16th century: specialized spelling (used for figurative senses) of metal.