Skip to main content
Select Source:

spear

spear, primitive weapon consisting of a wooden shaft tipped with a sharp point, usually 8 to 9 ft (2.4–2.7 m) in length. The point may be carved from the shaft and hardened in a fire, or made from another material; the oldest non-wood spear tips were of flint, later of bronze, and ultimately of steel. The spear has been in use since prehistoric times, as a missile or thrusting weapon. Wooden spears some 400,000 years old have been found at Schöningen, Germany, and in South Africa stone points roughly 500,000 years old that may have been used on thrusting spears have been found. Spear-throwers, such as the atlatl of the ancient Americas, are hooked sticks that are held in the hand in such a way as to increase the range and force with which a spear can be thrown. From the spears of antiquity the medieval lance and pike evolved. The pike is a long wooden shaft with a steel point that sometimes has a hook on one side. Longer by 2 or 3 ft (61–91 cm) than spears, lances were used by many European cavalry units as recently as the early 20th cent. In a few countries they are still borne in ceremonial military formations, sometimes with a small pennant near the point. Primitive peoples in remote areas still hunt and fight with spears, sometimes putting poison on the tips.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"spear." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spear." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spear

"spear." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spear

spear

spear / spi(ə)r/ • n. a weapon with a long shaft and a pointed tip, typically of metal, used for thrusting or throwing. ∎  a similar barbed instrument used for catching fish. ∎ archaic a spearman. ∎  a plant shoot, esp. a pointed stem of asparagus or broccoli. • v. [tr.] pierce or strike with a spear or other pointed object: she speared her last French fry with her fork. ∎  quickly extend the arm to catch (a fast-moving ball or other object): he hit a line drive that Bogar speared backhanded.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"spear." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spear." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear-1

"spear." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear-1

spear

spear a spear is the emblem of St Thomas the Apostle.
spear-carrier an actor with a walk-on part; an unimportant participant in something.
spear side the male side or members of a family, the opposite of the distaff side.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"spear." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spear." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear

"spear." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear

spear

spear sb. OE. spere = OS., OHG. sper (Du., G. speer), ON. (pl.) spjǫr.
Hence vb. XVIII.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"spear." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spear." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear-2

"spear." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear-2

spear

spearadhere, Agadir, appear, arrear, auctioneer, austere, balladeer, bandolier, Bashkir, beer, besmear, bier, blear, bombardier, brigadier, buccaneer, cameleer, career, cashier, cavalier, chandelier, charioteer, cheer, chevalier, chiffonier, clavier, clear, Coetzee, cohere, commandeer, conventioneer, Cordelier, corsetière, Crimea, dear, deer, diarrhoea (US diarrhea), domineer, Dorothea, drear, ear, electioneer, emir, endear, engineer, fear, fleer, Freer, fusilier, gadgeteer, Galatea, gazetteer, gear, gondolier, gonorrhoea (US gonorrhea), Greer, grenadier, hear, here, Hosea, idea, interfere, Izmir, jeer, Judaea, Kashmir, Keir, kir, Korea, Lear, leer, Maria, marketeer, Medea, Meir, Melilla, mere, Mia, Mir, mishear, mountaineer, muleteer, musketeer, mutineer, near, orienteer, pamphleteer, panacea, paneer, peer, persevere, pier, Pierre, pioneer, pistoleer, privateer, profiteer, puppeteer, queer, racketeer, ratafia, rear, revere, rhea, rocketeer, Sapir, scrutineer, sear, seer, sere, severe, Shamir, shear, sheer, sincere, smear, sneer, sonneteer, souvenir, spear, sphere, steer, stere, summiteer, Tangier, tear, tier, Trier, Tyr, veer, veneer, Vere, Vermeer, vizier, volunteer, Wear, weir, we're, year, Zaïre

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"spear." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"spear." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear-0

"spear." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spear-0