noun, plural bil·boes. Archaic.

a finely tempered sword.

Origin of bilbo

1585–95; short for Bilboa blade sword made in Bilboa (variant of Bilbao) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bilboes

Historical Examples of bilboes

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for bilboes


pl n

a long iron bar with two sliding shackles, formerly used to confine the ankles of a prisoner

Word Origin for bilboes

C16: perhaps changed from Bilbao


noun plural -bos or -boes

(formerly) a sword with a marked temper and elasticity

Word Origin for bilbo

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

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