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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English spere, sperre, spear, from Old English spere, from Proto-West Germanic *speru, from Proto-Germanic *speru, from Proto-Indo-European *sperH-.


spear (plural spears)

  1. A long stick with a sharp tip used as a weapon for throwing or thrusting, or anything used to make a thrusting motion.
  2. (now chiefly historical) A soldier armed with such a weapon; a spearman.
  3. A lance with barbed prongs, used by fishermen to retrieve fish.
  4. (ice hockey) An illegal maneuver using the end of a hockey stick to strike into another hockey player.
  5. (wrestling) In professional wrestling, a running tackle in which the wrestler's shoulder is driven into the opponent's midsection.
  6. A shoot, as of grass; a spire.
  7. The feather of a horse.
  8. The rod to which the bucket, or plunger, of a pump is attached; a pump rod.
  9. A long, thin strip from a vegetable.
    asparagus and broccoli spears
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
See also[edit]


spear (third-person singular simple present spears, present participle spearing, simple past and past participle speared)

  1. (transitive) To pierce with a spear.
    • 2012, Robin Reid, Savannas of Our Birth:
      By the 1970s, herders were spearing rhinos and poisoning lions to protest the loss of their land to conservation, then represented by the independent Kenyan government.
  2. (transitive, by extension) To penetrate or strike with, or as if with, any long narrow object; to make a thrusting motion that catches an object on the tip of a long device.
    • 2003, Stan Fischler, Shirley Fischler, Who's who in Hockey:
      Former teammate Derek Sanderson recalls that Maki hit Ted from behind as Green was clearing the puck from the Boston zone. Green turned to knock Maki down, but Maki speared him as he rose from the ice.
  3. (gridiron football) To tackle an opponent by ramming into them with one's helmet.
  4. (intransitive) To shoot into a long stem, as some plants do.
    • 1707, J[ohn] Mortimer, The Whole Art of Husbandry; or, The Way of Managing and Improving of Land. [], 2nd edition, London: [] J[ohn] H[umphreys] for H[enry] Mortlock [], and J[onathan] Robinson [], published 1708, →OCLC:
      you may prepare them for spearing by laying the Keys in Earth or Sand
  5. (transitive, obsolete, social, esp. Regency England) To ignore as a social snub.
    Synonym: cut
    • 27 September 2013, Kane, Kathryn, The Regency Redingote Blog The Cut: The Ultimate & Final Social Weapon:
      The Monthly Magazine, Or, British Register for 1798 included an explanation by a reader of how the cut was carried out in his college days in a lengthy letter to the editor, signed by the pseudonym "Ansonius." In his rambling letter, Ansonius noted that when he was at college, " … if a man passed an old acquaintance wittingly, without recognizing him, he was said— ‘To cut him.’" Ansonius then went on to explain the performance of the cut and noted that for a time the term "to spear" was used instead of to cut. However, that term did not remain long in use, and this act was generally known as "the cut" ever after.


spear (not comparable)

  1. Male.
    a spear counterpart
  2. Pertaining to male family members.
    the spear side of the family
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Alteration of spire, from Middle English spyre, spier, spir, from Old English spīr (stalk of a plant, shoot, blade). More at spire.


spear (plural spears)

  1. (botany) The sprout of a plant, stalk
  2. (obsolete) A church spire.
Derived terms[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of spere (spear)

West Frisian[edit]


From Old Frisian spere, spiri, from Proto-West Germanic *speru, from Proto-Germanic *speru.


spear c (plural spearen, diminutive spearke)

  1. spear

Further reading[edit]

  • spear”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011