Definition of cutlass in US English:



  • A short sword with a slightly curved blade, formerly used by sailors.

    • ‘Sailors' cutlasses, when carried on parade, always are hooked up to a belt.’
    • ‘Around his wide waist was a braided leather belt which held the usual pirate's weapons of a cutlass and pistol as well as an ax and two smaller daggers.’
    • ‘I only managed to escape by battling my way out of prison with a whittled down toothbrush for a cutlass and grenades fashioned from moist prison socks.’
    • ‘The whole crew appeared consecutively on deck, loading old muskets and pistols, brandishing cutlasses; a few were already busy heaving the cumbersome cannons from their storage unit.’
    • ‘For example, you use lumber for buildings and ships, iron ore for cutlasses and muskets, and sugarcane for rum.’
    • ‘As he stood there defenseless, the sailor was about to plunge his cutlass into him for the last time.’
    • ‘At sea, cutlasses became common issue in the 18th century for most navies and officers were equipped with swords and dirks in much the same way as their military counterparts.’
    • ‘They use pikes and heavy cutlasses in a practical, serious manner.’
    • ‘We can arm ourselves with guns and shove a cutlass under our car seat.’
    • ‘Juan de Lyone's eyes glinted in anticipation as he watched his men, they scattered the deck in no real order, sharpening weapons and fixing cutlasses and daggers to their belts.’
    • ‘Dogs, cutlasses, stones and cudgels, licensed firearms, if available, everything that's readily at hand should be brought to bear on the situation in defence of a neighbour under criminal attack.’
    • ‘Our blades met, and he slid his thick cutlass along the length of my sword so that they were hilt-to-hilt.’
    • ‘Again, that's great stuff for kids - it's pirates, it's pistols, it's cutlasses, it's galleons and sloops and swords.’
    • ‘Cannon, cutlasses and pistols, as well as naval dress of the period are studiously copied as, of course, is Sir Francis Haddock's ship, which is largely based on models and plans of a French third-ranker of the period, Le Brillant.’
    • ‘They cheered, drawing their swords and cutlasses.’
    • ‘During his acceptance speech, a skinny looking guy dressed as a pirate will run on to the stage wielding a cutlass and a musket - none shall survive.’
    • ‘Yet I was lost in the haze of the impending battle, my eyes fazed and bedazzled by the brilliant flash of swords and cutlasses.’
    • ‘The crew snarled like roused curs, and some made as if to stand, hands clasping the hilts of cutlasses and swords, daggers and stilettos.’
    • ‘The zombies clearly used to be pirates before they died, as they used cutlasses and daggers - typical pirate weapons.’
    • ‘I could start carrying a cutlass or rapier around for good measure, and cultivate a fine waxed moustache and goatee while wearing a bandanna on my head.’


Late 16th century: from French coutelas, based on Latin cultellus ‘small knife’ (see cutler).