the handle of a sword or dagger.
the handle of any weapon or tool.

verb (used with object)

to furnish with a hilt.


    to the hilt, to the maximum extent or degree; completely; fully: to play the role to the hilt.Also up to the hilt.

Origin of hilt

before 900; Middle English, Old English hilt(e); cognate with Middle Dutch hilt(e), Old Norse hjalt, Old High German helza handle of a sword
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hilt

Contemporary Examples of hilt

Historical Examples of hilt

  • I've read of precious stones in the hilt of a pirate's sword!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Siegmund saw it, and, springing forward, he grasped its hilt.

  • He would not have it in the scabbard, and when I laid it naked in his hand he kissed the hilt.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

  • The mingled feeling with which she spoke of him proved it to the hilt.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • If I could have mistaken the hilt, I could not mistake the split sheath.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for hilt



the handle or shaft of a sword, dagger, etc
to the hilt to the full


(tr) to supply with a hilt

Word Origin for hilt

Old English; related to Old Norse hjalt, Old Saxon helta oar handle, Old High German helza
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 hilt

Old English hilt "hilt, handle of a sword or dagger," from Proto-Germanic *helt (cf. Old Norse hjalt, Old High German helza "hilt," Old Saxon helta "oar handle"), perhaps from PIE *kel- "to strike." Formerly also used in plural in same sense as singular.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hilt


see to the hilt.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.