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pommel of a saddle
pommel of a sword

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English pomel, from Old French pomel and Medieval Latin pomellum, pumellum, presumedly via Vulgar Latin *pomellum (ball, knob), the diminutive of Late Latin pōmum (apple). Compare French pommeau and Spanish pomo.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɒ.məl/
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɑ.məl/
  • Hyphenation: pom‧mel
  • Rhymes: -ɒməl


pommel (plural pommels)

  1. The upper front brow of a saddle.
    • 1830, Charles Thompson, Rules for Bad Horsemen, 2nd edition:
      But, if it does so sit, it is plain that the pommel must rise sufficiently to secure the withers from pressure; therefore it follows, that a horse whose withers are higher than common, (a well-built hunter for example,) requires a pommel higher by so much as he excels the generality of horses.
    • 1990, Richard W. Bulliet, The Camel and the Wheel:
      In the shoulder saddle, pommel and cantle are inclined toward each other at the bottom and away from each other at the top.
    • 2011, Moira C. Reeve, The Original Horse Bible:
      An owner fits four fingers underneath the saddle's pommel, testing the fit of the saddle.
    Synonyms: swell, fork
  2. A rounded knob or handle.
    1. Either of the rounded handles on a pommel horse.
      • 1867, Ernest George Ravenstein, The gymnasium and its fittings:
        The pommels, of which two sets must be provided, fit into these incisions.
      • 1970, Dennis Keith Stanley, Gymnastics for women:
        Men use the pommels on the horse for side horse competition, and remove them for long horse vaulting. Women originally used the side horse with the pommels, but later the pommels were removed.
      • 2003, Dale Mood, Sports and Recreational Activities:
        Jahn is credited with introducing the parallel bars, the horizontal bar, the side horse with pommels, and the vaulting buck.
    2. The knob on the hilt of an edged weapon such as a sword or dagger.
      Holonyms: haft, hilt
      • 1884, Sir Richard Francis Burton, The Book of the Sword:
        The pommel is either a cone of metal or a crutch with a whorl ending either arm.
      • 1929, Bashford Dean, Catalogue of European Daggers:
        Pommel bilobed, overlaid with four acanthus leaves, and provided with small button-shaped eminences at tips of lobes and at apex.
      • 2007, Marko Aleksic, Medieval Swords from Southeastern Europe:
        There is a possibility that pommel was only decorated on the occasion of his coronation in 1209 but I take as more probably that complete pommel was made at that time and added to the tang of a blade, which is undoubtedly earlier.
    3. A knob forming the finial of a turret or pavilion.
      • 2005, Susan T. Stevens, Bir Ftouha: a pilgrimage church complex at Carthage:
        One fragment of pillar had a pommel finial with a mortise, indicating that it once held a metal object, perhaps a cross.
      • 2010, M. Stephen Miller, Inspired Innovations: A Celebration of Shaker Ingenuity:
        Yet each community had a turning (pommel or finial) at the top of the post whose shape distinguished it from the work of other communities. At New Lebanon, the decorative pommel varied little over the years.
      • 2013, Gareth Knight, The Book of Melusine of Lusignan in History, Legend and Romance:
        Five or six years after Mèlusine had departed, there began to appear, on the last day of August, a great hand that removed the pommel from the Poitevin Tower and pulled at it so strongly that it broke a great part of the roof.
  3. (sports, obsolete) The bat used in the game of knurr and spell or trap ball.
    • 1871, Edmund Routledge, Routledge's Every Boy's Annual:
      The player, armed with a pommel, stands from two to three feet from the spell, places a knur in the cup which is held down by the rack.
    • 1886, William Smith, Morley: Ancient and Modern:
      The commonest method of playing the game, by the smaller boys of the village, was with a "sendstick," or pommel, and a wooden spell with a hole in one end to place the knur, which, when struck "tip-cat" like at the other end, threw the knur up to be struck at.
    • 1911, The Encyclopaedia of sport & games, volume 3:
      Next, the spring of the spell, at the end of which is a small brass cup to hold the knur, is adjusted by thumbscrews, so that when released by a touch of the pommel on the trigger, it will toss the knur a distance of six feet forward.

Derived terms[edit]


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pommel (third-person singular simple present pommels, present participle pommelling or pommeling, simple past and past participle pommelled or pommeled)

  1. (transitive) To pound or beat.
    • 1843, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol:
      The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round his neck, pommel his back, and kick his legs in irrepressible affection!
    • 1851, Herman Melville, “37”, in Moby Dick:
      I will not say as schoolboys do to bullies—Take some one of your own size; don’t pommel me! No, ye’ve knocked me down, and I am up again; but ye have run and hidden.
    • 2012, Dan Alon, Munich Memoir:
      I began to fight him, pommeling him with my fists, screaming at him, all the while he was yelling, “Dani, it's me, Dani, it's your brother. It's Yoram.”

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