Definition of sword in US English:

sword

noun

  • 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.

    • ‘His clawed hand never strayed from the hilt of a long sword at his left hip.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She placed a hand on her sword hilt and calmly waited for Rae to make the first move.’
    • ‘The man's arm froze midair and his sword fell to the floor in a clatter of metal on stone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He raised his sword and thrust it at the man's head but the guard craned his neck to one side.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is said that he went for his sword, which would have been entirely characteristic.’
    • ‘The Knights had never needed any kind of weapon beyond their swords and spears and bows.’
    • ‘She noticed that some of them were a little jumpy with their hands on the hilt of their swords.’
    • ‘Other lethal weapons such as swords, bayonets, crossbows and knives have also been surrendered.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jumping back from the dagger she swung her sword at the opening that she saw.’
    • ‘He thought of the day that he chose his weapons, the two swords he held now in his sweaty hands.’
    • ‘This weapon is derived from the cavalry sword, designed for slashing and thrusting.’
    • ‘She grasped the hilt of her sword and thrust it at the stones, wedged it between the planks on the door.’
    • ‘His own sword had a three foot pure silver blade with a metal handle of the exact same length.’
    blade, steel
    View synonyms
    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.
      • ‘In the North East of Lombardy the Italian suits: swords, batons, cups and coins are used.’
      • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • beat (or turn) swords into ploughshares

    • Devote resources to peaceful rather than warlike ends.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As a military member, my association with violence and war appears to compromise my service of the God who would turn swords into plowshares.’
      • ‘We are turning our swords into ploughshares and this step should be appreciated and followed by all other countries.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The work of a Cotswold charity that keeps alive the idea of beating swords into ploughshares will be highlighted by Comic Relief on Sunday.’
      lay down arms, lay down weapons, demilitarize, turn over weapons, decommission arms, decommission weapons, become unarmed
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  • he who lives by the sword dies by the sword

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He paused and added, ‘But 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Those who took to their heels were followed on horseback by the bloodthirsty troops and put to the sword.’
      kill, execute, put to death, murder, butcher, slaughter, annihilate, massacre, cut down, mow down
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  • the sword of justice

    • Judicial authority.

      • ‘But the sword of justice should not be used to force me to compensate those with less talent.’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘Our nation's hand, it was said, would wield the sword of justice.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

sword

/sôrd//sɔrd/