[ met-l ]
/ ˈmɛt l /


courage and fortitude: a man of mettle.
disposition or temperament: a man of fine mettle.

Nearby words

  1. metsys, quentin,
  2. metternich,
  3. metternich, prince clemens von,
  4. metteur en scène,
  5. mettie,
  6. mettled,
  7. mettlesome,
  8. metuchen,
  9. metyrapone,
  10. metz


    on one's mettle, in the position of being incited to do one's best: The loss of the first round put him on his mettle to win the match.

Origin of mettle

1575–85; spelling variant of metal, in metaphoric usages

Can be confusedmedal meddle metal mettle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mettle

British Dictionary definitions for mettle


/ (ˈmɛtəl) /


courage; spirit
inherent character
on one's mettle roused to putting forth one's best efforts

Word Origin for mettle

C16: originally variant spelling of metal

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 mettle



1580s, variant spelling of metal, both forms used interchangeably (by Shakespeare and others) in the literal sense and in the figurative one of "stuff of which a person is made" (1550s) until the spellings and senses diverged early 18c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper