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spear1

[speer]
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noun
  1. a long, stabbing weapon for thrusting or throwing, consisting of a wooden shaft to which a sharp-pointed head, as of iron or steel, is attached.
  2. a soldier or other person armed with such a weapon; spearman: an army of 40,000 spears.
  3. a similar weapon or stabbing implement, as one for use in fishing.
  4. the act of spearing.
adjective
  1. spear side.
verb (used with object)
  1. to pierce with or as with a spear.
verb (used without object)
  1. to go or penetrate like a spear: The plane speared through the clouds.

Origin of spear1

before 900; Middle English (noun), Old English spere; cognate with Dutch, German speer
Related formsspear·er, noun

spear2

[speer]
noun
  1. a sprout or shoot of a plant, as a blade of grass or an acrospire of grain.
verb (used without object)
  1. to sprout; shoot; send up or rise in a spear or spears.

Origin of spear2

1520–30; variant of spire1, perhaps influenced by spear1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for spear

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • One of them gave me his spear, which was very blunt, and I sharpened it for him.

  • Let him then name the gentleman with whom he would break a spear.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • This is what happened: from one of the shenzis you traded a spear, or a spear was given you.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • "A shenzi has killed Mavrouki with a spear," the man answered her question.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • If our men get to fooling with their women, they'll spear the lot of us!

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White


British Dictionary definitions for spear

spear1

noun
  1. a weapon consisting of a long shaft with a sharp pointed end of metal, stone, or wood that may be thrown or thrust
  2. a similar implement used to catch fish
  3. another name for spearman
verb
  1. to pierce (something) with or as if with a spear
Derived Formsspearer, noun

Word Origin

Old English spere; related to Old Norse spjör spears, Greek sparos gilthead

spear2

noun
  1. a shoot, slender stalk, or blade, as of grass, asparagus, or broccoli

Word Origin

C16: probably variant of spire 1, influenced by spear 1
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

Word Origin and History for spear

n.1

Old English spere, from Proto-Germanic *speri (cf. Old Norse spjör, Old Saxon, Old Frisian sper, Dutch speer, Old High German sper, German Speer "spear"), from PIE root *sper- "spear, pole" (cf. Old Norse sparri "spar, rafter," and perhaps also Latin sparus "hunting spear").

n.2

"sprout of a plant," 1540s, variant of spire.

v.

1755, from spear (n.1). Related: Speared; spearing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper