Definition of sword in English:



  • 1A weapon with a long metal blade and a hilt with a hand guard, used for thrusting or striking and now typically worn as part of ceremonial dress.

    • ‘The man's arm froze midair and his sword fell to the floor in a clatter of metal on stone.’
    • ‘This weapon is derived from the cavalry sword, designed for slashing and thrusting.’
    • ‘Jumping back from the dagger she swung her sword at the opening that she saw.’
    • ‘Putting the bucket on the floor she unlocked the door to the cell, keeping one hand on the hilt of her sword as she did so.’
    • ‘His clawed hand never strayed from the hilt of a long sword at his left hip.’
    • ‘The words stung him and he put his hand to his belt to where the hilt of his sword was as if to assure himself that he was as much as a man as any.’
    • ‘He thought of the day that he chose his weapons, the two swords he held now in his sweaty hands.’
    • ‘It is said that he went for his sword, which would have been entirely characteristic.’
    • ‘He raised his sword and thrust it at the man's head but the guard craned his neck to one side.’
    • ‘It was a beautiful sword, long, simple and elegant with an ivory hilt and a golden tassel.’
    • ‘His hand wandered mindlessly to the hilt of the sword that was strapped to his waist.’
    • ‘His own sword had a three foot pure silver blade with a metal handle of the exact same length.’
    • ‘She placed a hand on her sword hilt and calmly waited for Rae to make the first move.’
    • ‘The Knights had never needed any kind of weapon beyond their swords and spears and bows.’
    • ‘Officers were armed with sword and revolver, other ranks with bayonet and pistol.’
    • ‘Another hand is then seen cutting his throat with a large blade, perhaps a sword.’
    • ‘The light played off the steel blades of swords, daggers and the occasional axe.’
    • ‘Other lethal weapons such as swords, bayonets, crossbows and knives have also been surrendered.’
    • ‘She noticed that some of them were a little jumpy with their hands on the hilt of their swords.’
    • ‘She grasped the hilt of her sword and thrust it at the stones, wedged it between the planks on the door.’
    blade, steel
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    1. 1.1the swordliterary Military power, violence, or destruction.
      ‘not many perished by the sword’
      • ‘The historical sources are clear that the relationship was hostile and that negotiation was by the sword.’
      • ‘And even though he would have liked an honorable death by the sword … I do not think that he ever wished for this to happen the way it did.’
      • ‘In South America, the earliest Aztecs had converted people by the sword.’
    2. 1.2swords One of the suits in a tarot pack.
      • ‘The four Latin suits are swords, batons, cups and coins.’
      • ‘The suits are cups, coins, swords and batons, and each suit contains seven different cards.’
      • ‘In the North East of Lombardy the Italian suits: swords, batons, cups and coins are used.’


  • beat (or turn) swords into ploughshares

    • Devote resources to peaceful rather than warlike ends.

      • ‘Spiritless environmentalism may not ultimately be enough - but spirit-based environmentalism needs to act quickly if it is to show that it has the power to turn swords into ploughshares.’
      • ‘As a military member, my association with violence and war appears to compromise my service of the God who would turn swords into plowshares.’
      • ‘The work of a Cotswold charity that keeps alive the idea of beating swords into ploughshares will be highlighted by Comic Relief on Sunday.’
      • ‘Sensible, yes; but the industry is founded on an intimidation infrastructure, and has shown a marked disinclination to beat swords into ploughshares regardless of any cost/benefit rationale.’
      • ‘We are turning our swords into ploughshares and this step should be appreciated and followed by all other countries.’
      lay down arms, lay down weapons, demilitarize, turn over weapons, decommission arms, decommission weapons, become unarmed
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  • fall on one's sword

    • Assume responsibility or blame on behalf of other people, especially by resigning from a position.

      ‘he heroically fell on his sword, insisting that it was his decision’
      • ‘Government sources told the Sunday Star-Times that he will be asked to fall on his sword.’
      • ‘He's the most high profile cabinet member to fall on his sword.’
      • ‘Usually the top of the command is the person who falls on their sword.’
      • ‘Michael Noonan, the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, duly fell on his sword.’
      • ‘Bliss, his reputation shredded beyond repair, has fallen on his sword.’
      • ‘The permanent secretary turned ambassador has already publicly fallen on his sword.’
      • ‘Given John Elliot's standards of accountability, don't expect too many senior personnel to be falling on their swords.’
      • ‘The cold, hard facts of any past extravagances at taxpayers ' expense may force him to fall on his sword.’
      • ‘Yesterday, the Newcastle-based bank's beleaguered chief executive finally fell on his sword, tendering his resignation.’
      • ‘Pressure would then build up on the CEO to fall on his sword.’
  • he who lives by the sword dies by the sword

    • proverb Those who commit violent acts must expect to suffer violence themselves.

      • ‘He paused and added, ‘But he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’’
      • ‘It was said long ago that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’
      • ‘Raimondo interrupts the standoff, reminding them of God's law that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’
      • ‘As the old adage goes, he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’
      • ‘Clarence does not get away with murder - he who lives by the sword dies by the sword - and Alabama, one of life's victims at the beginning of the movie is at the end, once again, a victim cast away on the unpredictable seas of life.’
  • put to the sword

    • Kill, especially in war.

      • ‘Before this, except for a few wealthy or powerful individuals worth ransoming, captured soldiers could be, and very often were, put to the sword.’
      • ‘When the ancient Romans were besieging Carthage, they put it about that those citizens who gave them themselves up in advance would not be put to the sword.’
      • ‘History tells us that these knights were wiped out in 1307, when they were arrested to a man on a charge of heresy and put to the sword.’
      • ‘Vasari vividly depicts the Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny being thrown out of an upstairs window, while his followers are put to the sword in the foreground.’
      • ‘Those who took to their heels were followed on horseback by the bloodthirsty troops and put to the sword.’
      • ‘There wasn't all that much of the murderous stuff that took place later in the Thirty Years War, when towns were sacked and people who were not involved in the war were all put to the sword.’
      • ‘A protagonist who has 30,000 civilians put to the sword and sells another 50,000 into slavery after the battle of Tyre wouldn't give him crystal clear heroic qualities, I guess.’
      • ‘After a brief resistance the town was taken by storm and 20,000 men, women and children were put to the sword or burned to death, including hundreds who had packed the cathedral seeking sanctuary.’
      • ‘More than 20,000 people, including 7000 who had taken refuge in the cathedral, were put to the sword or burnt at the stake.’
      • ‘Whole villages were put to the sword, livestock was slaughtered, crops destroyed and famine and disease decimated the survivors.’
      kill, execute, put to death, murder, butcher, slaughter, annihilate, massacre, cut down, mow down
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  • the sword of justice

    • Judicial authority.

      • ‘Law professor Paul Laband argued in 1897 that women were too weak ‘to wield the sword of justice.’’
      • ‘Justice attempts to settle matters to the highest truth, to separate truth from falsehood (the function of the sword of justice).’
      • ‘But the sword of justice should not be used to force me to compensate those with less talent.’
      • ‘Our nation's hand, it was said, would wield the sword of justice.’


Old English sw(e)ord, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zwaard and German Schwert.