or cut·las

[kuht-luh s]


a short, heavy, slightly curved sword with a single cutting edge, formerly used by sailors.

Origin of cutlass

1585–95; earlier coutelace < Middle French coutelas, equivalent to coutel knife (French couteau) (< Latin cultellus; see cultellus) + -as augmentative suffix; cognate with Italian coltellaccio big knife; cf. curtalax Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cutlass

Historical Examples of cutlass

  • He ducked instinctively, striking upward with his cutlass as he did so.

  • The point of the cutlass just passed my hip-bone, and gave me a smart flesh-wound.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Use only the cutlass when you gain the parapet and ply like men.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

  • And signing to one of the men to join Darby at the door, he drew his cutlass.

    The Wild Geese

    Stanley John Weyman

  • His belt was tightly drawn round his waist, and his cutlass hung from it.

British Dictionary definitions for cutlass



a curved, one-edged sword formerly used by sailors

Word Origin for cutlass

C16: from French coutelas, from coutel knife, from Latin cultellus a small knife, from culter knife; see coulter
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 cutlass

1590s, from Middle French coutelas (16c.), probably from Italian coltellaccio "large knife" (with augmentative suffix -accio), from coltello "knife," from Latin cultellus "small knife," diminutive of culter "knife, plowshare," from PIE *kel-tro-, from root *(s)kel- "to cut" (see scale (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper