Definition of scythe in US English:



  • A tool used for cutting crops such as grass or wheat, with a long curved blade at the end of a long pole attached to which are one or two short handles.

    • ‘But the small party does not manage to remain separate, for it meets a masqued procession featuring Winged Time, his scythe and hourglass.’
    • ‘Her knives were twice a long as a scythe set straight upon the handle.’
    • ‘What belongs to time is owned by time, subject to the Fates; what is born in time ends by time's scythe.’
    • ‘She prattles on a mile per breathless minute, wields her parasol like a reaper's scythe, flutters the long lashes curtaining her sapphire eyes, and emerges as utterly charming.’
    • ‘He also often bears a scythe or sickle in his arms, reflecting that Time's eroding force cuts down everything.’
    • ‘Further up on the gable's crest are Vices and Death with a scythe at the very top.’
    • ‘The angel of death still appears at the entryway, waves his scythe, and off we go to who knows where.’
    • ‘Instead, save the scythe for the kitschy styling, indolent performances, and hokey gags.’
    • ‘The former has the classically draped general rising from his sarcophagus, while around him the pyramid of Eternity crumbles and the figure of Time breaks his scythe.’
    • ‘Climbing on the roof, Gawain suddenly heard a violent noise, clattering off the cliff like a grindstone on a scythe.’
    billhook, sickle
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[with object]
  • 1Cut with a scythe.

    • ‘Pesticides, similarly, were unknown: docks, nettles and thistles were scythed away by hand just as they came into seed.’
    • ‘Still, by the end of 1993, the political landscape had been scythed so clean of rivals or opponents that the Party seemed on the brink of power, if only by elimination of alternatives.’
    • ‘Croft galloped across the field, jumped the low hedge into the meadow, across that and into an apple and pear orchard, well cared for; the branches pruned, the grass regularly scythed.’
    • ‘I screamed, firing back, emptying my weapon into the fleeing figures: mowing several down like scythed wheat.’
    • ‘Only Father Death reaped a bountiful harvest as he scythed the children of the community.’
    • ‘They went down like scythed wheat as their quarry turned upon them.’
    cut, cut down, shear, trim
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    1. 1.1no object, with adverbial Move through or penetrate something rapidly and forcefully.
      ‘attacking players can scythe through defenses’
      • ‘His cold, dark grey eyes scythed across the bare antechamber, coming to rest upon a small, wrinkled old hunchbacked man who had come through the door at the opposite side if the room.’
      • ‘One felt that the Navy might rally if Oxford took their foot off, and so it proved as the Blues rotated their side. The Navy scythed through the new centre pairing with Jamie Caruana touching down.’
      • ‘We have you out-numbered, out-gunned and out-scythed.’
      • ‘The Empire - and its religion - survived until the crescent moon of Islam scythed across the region in the 7th century AD.’
      • ‘On the stroke of half time Oxford once again scythed through the shaky gold defence, hooker Andy Dalgleish supplying Bradshaw with the perfect pass to score his second of the evening.’
      • ‘The No.9 scythed through a number of tackles before deftly hand-passing to the net, a la Angela Downey of old.’
      • ‘She narrow missed a heavy laser beam as it scythed by her.’
      • ‘The Drumaness bowler scythed through the defence of Alan Millar with just the second delivery of his first over, dismissing the Bangor opener for 4 runs.’
      • ‘Omega, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta squadrons silently scythed into space and awaited their orders from positions concealed by their cloaking systems.’


Old English sīthe, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zeis and German Sense.