Middle English, from Middle French hallebarde, from Middle High German helmbarte, from helm handle + barte ax
First Known Use: 15th century
Weapon consisting of an ax blade and a sharp spike mounted on the end of a long staff. Usually about 5–6 ft (1.5–2 m) long, it was an important weapon in middle Europe in the 15th and early 16th centuries. It enabled a foot soldier to contend with an armoured man on horseback; the spiked head kept the rider at a distance, and the ax blade could strike a heavy cleaving blow. Firearms and the declining use of armour made the halberd obsolete.