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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.

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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.

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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.

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spear

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

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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

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