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[kwawr-ter-staf, -stahf] /ˈkwɔr tərˌstæf, -ˌstɑf/
noun, plural quarterstaves
[kwawr-ter-steyvz] /ˈkwɔr tərˌsteɪvz/ (Show IPA),
a former English weapon consisting of a stout pole 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) long, tipped with iron.
exercise or fighting with this weapon.
Origin of quarterstaff
First recorded in 1540-50; quarter + staff1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for quarterstaff
Historical Examples
  • "Mr. Bickerstaff thanks Mr. quarterstaff for his kind and instructive letter dated the 26th instant" (folio).

    The Tatler, Volume 1, 1899 George A. Aitken
  • Sometimes there were wrestling matches, and combat with sword and quarterstaff.

    Cheshire Charles E. Kelsey
  • And from that day till he waved his quarterstaff when half over the river and shouted, Grace reigns!

  • So I examined billhook and quarterstaff, and at last said I knew them.

    A Thane of Wessex Charles W. Whistler
  • Now and then they stopped to rest, and each thought that he never had seen in all his life before such a hand at quarterstaff.

  • The renowned Hercules always carried a quarterstaff, and was from thence called Claviger.

    The Tatler, Volume 1, 1899 George A. Aitken
  • And next, I saw my quarterstaff still resting against the tree where I had left it.

    A Thane of Wessex Charles W. Whistler
  • The English are but bunglers with a gentleman's blade, and should restrict themselves to pike and quarterstaff.

  • So saying, he raised his quarterstaff above his head in a threatening way.

  • With a spear your people would know quite as much as I should; but I fancy that, with a quarterstaff, I should astonish them.

    By Right of Conquest G. A. Henty
British Dictionary definitions for quarterstaff


noun (pl) -staves (-ˌsteɪvz; -ˌstɑːvz)
a stout iron-tipped wooden staff about 6ft long, formerly used in England as a weapon
the use of such a staff in fighting, sport, or exercise
Word Origin
C16: of uncertain origin
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 quarterstaff

also quarter-staff, 1540s (quarter-stroke "stroke with a quarterstaff" is attested from early 15c.), stout pole, six to eight feet long (six-and-a-half sometimes is given as the standard length), tipped with iron, formerly a weapon used by the English peasantry. From staff (n.). The quarter likely is in reference to its operation.

It was grasped by one hand in the middle, and by the other between the middle and the end. In the attack the latter hand shifted from one quarter of the staff to the other, giving the weapon a rapid circular motion, which brought the ends on the adversary at unexpected points. [Century Dictionary]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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