a small sword, especially of the 18th century, having a narrow blade and used for thrusting.
a longer, heavier sword, especially of the 16th and 17th centuries, having a double-edged blade and used for slashing and thrusting.

Origin of rapier

1545–55; < Middle French (espee) rapiere literally, rasping (sword); see rape3
Related formsra·pi·ered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rapier

Contemporary Examples of rapier

Historical Examples of rapier

  • I placed my rapier on the table and waited for him to speak.

    The Suitors of Yvonne

    Raphael Sabatini

  • If your friend desire the sword, I have no objection,—I mean the rapier.

    The Fortunes Of Glencore

    Charles James Lever

  • The man with his face to me tossed his rapier impatiently into a corner.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • Strickland employed not the rapier of sarcasm but the bludgeon of invective.

    The Moon and Sixpence

    W. Somerset Maugham

  • If it were not for the Princess I would feed my rapier with him.

    The False Chevalier

    William Douw Lighthall

British Dictionary definitions for rapier



a long narrow two-edged sword with a guarded hilt, used as a thrusting weapon, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries
a smaller single-edged 18th-century sword, used principally in France
Derived Formsrapier-like, adjective

Word Origin for rapier

C16: from Old French espee rapiere, literally: rasping sword; see rasp 1
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 rapier

"light, sharp-pointed sword," 1550s, from Middle French rapière, from espee rapiere "long, pointed two-edged sword" (late 15c.), in which the adjective is of uncertain origin, perhaps from derisive use of raspiere "poker, scraper." Dutch, Danish rapier, German Rappier are from French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper