Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[met-l] /ˈmɛt l/
courage and fortitude:
a man of mettle.
disposition or temperament:
a man of fine mettle.
on one's mettle, in the position of being incited to do one's best:
The loss of the first round put him on his mettle to win the match.
Origin of mettle
1575-85; spelling variant of metal, in metaphoric usages
Can be confused
medal, meddle, metal, mettle.
1. valor, pluck, vigor, ardor, nerve, fiber. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for mettle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Texas cattle put the horse and his rider more on their mettle than these grade cattle.

    Jack the Young Cowboy George Bird Grinnell
  • The rector proved himself a competitor worthy of the minister's mettle.

    Days Off Henry Van Dyke
  • Those curious words of the mysterious girl had placed me upon my mettle.

    Hushed Up William Le Queux
  • The Corsicans at Toulon were persons of importance, and had shown their mettle.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte William Milligan Sloane
  • They asked questions which went to the heart of the business and put me to my mettle to answer them.

    The New Freedom Woodrow Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for mettle


courage; spirit
inherent character
on one's mettle, roused to putting forth one's best efforts
Word Origin
C16: originally variant spelling of metal
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for mettle

1580s, variant spelling of metal, both forms used interchangeably (by Shakespeare and others) in the literal sense and in the figurative one of "stuff of which a person is made" (1550s) until the spellings and senses diverged early 18c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for mettle

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for mettle

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for mettle