See more synonyms for mettle on
  1. 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

Synonyms for mettle

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mettle

Contemporary Examples of mettle

Historical Examples of mettle

British Dictionary definitions for mettle


  1. courage; spirit
  2. inherent character
  3. 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