an agricultural implement consisting of a long, curving blade fastened at an angle to a handle, for cutting grass, grain, etc., by hand.

verb (used with object), scythed, scyth·ing.

to cut or mow with a scythe.

Origin of scythe

before 900; Middle English sith, Old English sīthe, earlier sigdi; cognate with Old Norse sigthr; spelling sc by pseudoetymological association with Latin scindere to cut or with scissors
Related formsscythe·less, adjectivescythe·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scythe

Contemporary Examples of scythe

Historical Examples of scythe

  • Only one thing could surpass him: the scythe of death which blindly mows the world.

  • There is another ahead of him there, with the head of a scythe inside his smock.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The American pioneers had only a sickle or a scythe with which to cut their grain.

    The Age of Invention

    Holland Thompson

  • Close by them a man was preparing to scythe out one of the dell-holes.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • If the ould Governor's got a tongue like a file, Philip's got a tongue like a scythe—he'll mow them down.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for scythe



a manual implement for cutting grass, etc, having a long handle held with both hands and a curved sharpened blade that moves in a plane parallel to the ground


(tr) to cut (grass, etc) with a scythe
Derived Formsscythelike, adjective

Word Origin for scythe

Old English sigthe; related to Old Norse sigthr, Old High German segansa
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 scythe

Old English siðe, sigði, from Proto-Germanic *segithoz (cf. Middle Low German segede, Middle Dutch sichte, Old High German segensa, German Sense), from PIE root *sek- "to cut" (see section (n.)). The sc- spelling crept in early 15c., from influence of Latin scissor "carver, cutter" and scindere "to cut." Cf. French scier "saw," a false spelling from sier.


1570s, "use a scythe;" 1590s "to mow;" from scythe (n.). From 1897 as "move with the sweeping motion of a scythe." Related: Scythed; scything.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper