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a weapon having various forms but consisting typically of a long, straight or slightly curved blade, sharp-edged on one or both sides, with one end pointed and the other fixed in a hilt or handle.
this weapon as the symbol of military power, punitive justice, authority, etc.:
The pen is mightier than the sword.
a cause of death or destruction.
war, combat, slaughter, or violence, especially military force or aggression:
to perish by the sword.
(initial capital letter) Military. the code name for one of the five D-Day invasion beaches on France’s Normandy coast, assaulted by British forces.
at swords’ points, mutually antagonistic or hostile; opposed:
Father and son are constantly at swords’ point.
cross swords,

to engage in combat; fight.
to disagree violently; argue:
The board members crossed swords in the selection of a president.

put to the sword, to slay; execute:
The entire population of the town was put to the sword.
Contemporary Examples

Anyone else with the sword would look absolutely ridiculous, but it fits me perfectly.
‘Game of Thrones’ Star Maisie Williams on Arya Stark’s S4 Journey and Her Crush on Andrew Garfield Marlow Stern June 22, 2014

If Russell Crowe appears with a sword, they walk out of the theater.
The Stacks: The Searing Story of How Murder Stalked a Tiny New York Town E. Jean Carroll April 18, 2014

If so, it shows that the Iranian theocracy ultimately fell on its own sword.
Could the Mullahs Fall This Time? Rouzbeh Parsi, Trita Parsi December 26, 2009

Zeidman pointed to the way the Republicans handled Syria, which, he said, “allowed the administration to fall on their own sword.”
GOP Donors Revolt Against Republican-Led Government Shutdown David Freedlander October 2, 2013

Orcrist was not, as Dickey had said, the name of the sword used by Bilbo Baggins in the Misty Mountains in “The Hobbit.”
Best New York Times Corrections Ever: ‘The Shining,’ Twilight Sparkle & More Josh Dzieza February 2, 2012

Historical Examples

I shall stop his recruiting, and choke his blasphemy with a good French sword.
The Hour and the Man Harriet Martineau

The legions which she sends forth are armed, not with the sword, but with the cross.
United States Presidents’ Inaugural Speeches Various

After he left Corfu they carried fire and sword along the Illyrian coast.
Famous Sea Fights John Richard Hale

They were performed by those who could better wield the sword than the pen.
A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion William Dobein James

It has caused the sword to drop from the hand of the military leader.
The Indian in his Wigwam Henry R. Schoolcraft

a thrusting, striking, or cutting weapon with a long blade having one or two cutting edges, a hilt, and usually a crosspiece or guard
such a weapon worn on ceremonial occasions as a symbol of authority
something resembling a sword, such as the snout of a swordfish
cross swords, to argue or fight
the sword

violence or power, esp military power
death; destruction: to put to the sword


Old English sweord, from Proto-Germanic *swerdan (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian swerd, Old Norse sverð, Swedish svärd, Middle Dutch swaert, Dutch zwaard, Old High German swert, German Schwert), related to Old High German sweran “to hurt,” from *swertha-, literally “the cutting weapon,” from PIE root *swer- (3) “to cut, pierce.” Contrast with plowshare is from the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah ii:4, Micah iv:3). Phrase put (originally do) to the sword “kill, slaughter” is recorded from mid-14c.

of the Hebrew was pointed, sometimes two-edged, was worn in a sheath, and suspended from the girdle (Ex. 32:27; 1 Sam. 31:4; 1 Chr. 21:27; Ps. 149:6: Prov. 5:4; Ezek. 16:40; 21:3-5). It is a symbol of divine chastisement (Deut. 32:25; Ps. 7:12; 78:62), and of a slanderous tongue (Ps. 57:4; 64:3; Prov. 12:18). The word of God is likened also to a sword (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17; Rev. 1:16). Gideon’s watchword was, “The sword of the Lord” (Judg. 7:20).

In addition to the idiom beginning with
also see:

at sword’s point
cross swords


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