sellsword

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

sell +‎ sword. Compare hired gun.

Noun[edit]

sellsword ‎(plural sellswords)

  1. (usually fantasy) A mercenary.
    • 1982, Asprin, Robert Lynn, “Exercise in Pain”, in Storm Season, ISBN 9780441787104:
      Your profession always charges high and never guarantees their work. No sellsword would stay alive if he demanded a sorcerer's terms.
    • 1996, George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, Bantam Books (2011), ISBN 9780553386790, pages 367-368:
      The sellsword scrambled backward, checking each blow, stepping lithely over rock and root, his eyes never leaving his foe. He was quicker, Catelyn saw; the knight's silvered sword never came near to touching him, but his own ugly grey blade hacked a notch from Ser Vadis's shoulder plate.
    • 2005, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, "Chapter 1: The Battle Begins", developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube:
      Bandit: It's those fool villagers...They think they can buy a bunch of sellswords to chase us away.
  2. (hence figuratively, often derogatory) Someone who only works for money, in the manner of a mercenary.
    • 2013 April 2, Matt Stewart, “Opinion: Royals poised to make the playoffs”, in Fox 4 (Kansas City)[1], retrieved 2014-11-24:
      Whenever I see Alcides Escobar make another unbelievable play at shortstop, I can’t help but think we got the better of the deal in the trade for Zack Grienke. The money-hungry Grienke is now pitching for the Dodgers and admits he wanted to play for the team that paid him the most cash. A sellsword. A gunslinger for hire.
    • 2014 April 28, Greg Howard, “José Mourinho Is The Antichrist: A Closet Liverpool Fan's Lament”, in Deadspin[2], retrieved 2014-11-24:
      Soccer is class warfare, a battle between the haves and the have-nots, and those with more money and resources always win. In soccer, The Empire is undefeated. And José Mourinho, the world's greatest sellsword, the man who has discovered nothing in soccer but how to win, is its face.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often used literally to refer to a mercenary armed with a sword but also used more generally as a synonym for a mercenary of any type or armament; for example, when in science fiction. Also used figuratively. Compare freelance.

Quotations[edit]

For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:sellsword.

Synonyms[edit]