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[bil-boh] /ˈbɪl boʊ/
noun, plural bilboes. Archaic.
a finely tempered sword.
Origin of bilbo2
1585-95; short for Bilboa blade sword made in Bilboa (variant of Bilbao) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bilboes
Historical Examples
  • Up with the prisoner, and let us get him safely into the bilboes.'

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Restraint, durance, confinement under arrest, or in the bilboes.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Here, Nicholls, this man is your prisoner; get the bilboes and clap them on him.

    The Missing Merchantman Harry Collingwood
  • For which Mr. Rowe carid hym abord and put hym in the bilboes.

  • One of the earliest of these instruments of punishment was the bilboes.

    The Historical Child Oscar Chrisman
  • They took him and told him he should go to the bilboes, and then be hanged.

    The American Indians Henry R. Schoolcraft
  • They'll lie safely in the bilboes, even if we do not run them up to the yard-arm.

    The Quest of the 'Golden Hope' Percy F. Westerman
  • It was a rule that none should speak to a man in the bilboes.

    On the Spanish Main John Masefield
  • An they do not confess, they may be set in the bilboes and whipped.

    Heralds of Empire

    Agnes C. Laut
  • Then for — but O these bilboes on our ankles, how mercilessly they grip!

    Pagan Papers Kenneth Grahame
British Dictionary definitions for bilboes


plural noun
a long iron bar with two sliding shackles, formerly used to confine the ankles of a prisoner
Word Origin
C16: perhaps changed from Bilbao


noun (pl) -bos, -boes
(formerly) a sword with a marked temper and elasticity
Word Origin
C16: from Bilboa, variant (in English) of Bilbao, Spain, noted for its blades
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bilboes



kind of sword noted for temper and elasticity, 1590s, from Bilbao, town in northern Spain where swords were made, in English Bilboa. The town name is Roman Bellum Vadum "beautiful ford" (over the Nervion River).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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