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The Stabby Thing: Know Your Swords

Image of an Asian woman holding a sword

I’m tickled by the etymologies of swords.

Sword” – from an Old English word meaning “sharp.” Menace me, will you? Behold as I unleash my Sharp!

Gladius” – Latin. The Beater or The Breaker. A tool of Empire. As in “we are Romans and we will beat you into submission. With these. You will comply.”

Chereb” – Hebrew. The blades one finds in the Old Testament. The word means “drought.” As in, when I cut you, all the water will drain out of you and there will be a desert in your body. I will make you a desert.

Estoc” – from Old French verb “to stab”; literally, the Stabby Thing

Falchion” – also French, “sickle.” We are taking this metaphor of reaping the enemy like wheat very seriously today.

Khanda” – the Divider. Because you are about to be sawn in two.

Saber” – “It Cuts.”

Rapier,” the dueling sword – Differing theories, but most probably from Spanish “ropa.” So in the 1500s, rapier probably meant “The One You Wear With a Fancy Dress.”

Stant Litore

Photo Credit: Yoo Soosang on Unsplash.


Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!

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