Find the word definition

The Collaborative International Dictionary

Glaive \Glaive\, n. [F. glaive, L. gladius; prob. akin to E. claymore. Cf. Gladiator.]

  1. A weapon formerly used, consisting of a large blade fixed on the end of a pole, whose edge was on the outside curve; also, a light lance with a long sharp-pointed head.

  2. A sword; -- used poetically and loosely.

    The glaive which he did wield.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 13c., used in Middle English of various weapons, from Old French glaive "lance, spear, sword," also figuratively used for "violent death" (12c.), from Latin gladius "sword" (see gladiator); influenced by clava "knotty branch, cudgel, club," related to clavus "nail."


n. 1 A weapon formerly used, consisting of a large blade fixed on the end of a pole, whose edge was on the outside curve. 2 A light lance with a long sharp-pointed head. 3 (context poetically or loosely English) A sword.


A glaive is a European polearm weapon, consisting of a single-edged blade on the end of a pole. It is similar to the Japanese naginata, the Chinese guandao, Russian sovnya and Siberian .

Typically, the blade was around 45cm (18 inches) long, on the end of a pole 2 m (6 or 7 feet) long, and the blade was affixed in a socket-shaft configuration similar to an axe head, rather than having a tang like a sword or naginata. Occasionally glaive blades were created with a small hook on the reverse side to better catch riders. Such blades are called glaive- guisarmes.

According to the 1599 treatise Paradoxes of Defence by the English gentleman George Silver, the glaive is used in the same general manner as the quarterstaff, half pike, bill, halberd, voulge, or partisan. Silver rates this class of polearms above all other individual hand-to-hand combat weapons.

The Maciejowski Bible (Morgan Bible) depicts an example of a two-handed glaive used on horseback.

The contemporary term for this weapon may have been faussart, which was used for a variety of single-edged weapons seen as related to the scythe (along with terms such as falchion or falcata derived from falx, the Latin term for "scythe").

Usage examples of "glaive".

The walls gleamed pale with knightly harness, habergeons gaping for heads, breastplates of blue steel, halbert, and hand-axe, greaves, glaives, boar-spears, and polished spurfixed heel-pieces.

Satisfaction warmed me as I discovered a cluster of merchants dealing in everything from ivory-handled daggers for ladies to efficient glaives to keep watchmen at a suitable distance from anyone trying to do them damage.

Guards in bright-polished silver armor whirled around to face them, glaives flashing in their hands as they dipped.

Their leather cloaks were poor cover for a storm, and such lambskins that had been hastily purchased in Ille Glaive were wet and stinking.

The cityhold of Ille Glaive, with its sprawling farms, stout outwalls, and tight little villages where every building shared walls with another, spread across the horizon like a land made of snow.

Unlike Spire Vanis, Ille Glaive did not live solely within its walls, and pothouses, stables, barracks, covered markets, pieces of freestanding stonework, broken arches, and lightning-cracked towers spilled from the split skin of its east wall.