Simple Definition of mettle
: strength of spirit : ability to continue despite difficulties
Examples of mettle in a sentence
The competition will test her mettle.
Did You Know?
Originally, "mettle" was simply a variant spelling of the word metal (which dates to at least the 14th century), and it was used in all of the same senses as its metallic relative. Over time, however, "mettle" came to be used mainly in figurative senses referring to the quality of someone's character. It eventually became a distinct English word in its own right, losing its literal sense altogether. "Metal" remained a term primarily used for those hard shiny substances such as steel or iron, but it also acquired a figurative use. Today, both words can mean "vigor and strength of spirit or temperament," but only "metal" is used of metallic substances.
Origin of mettle
alteration of metal
First Known Use: 1581
Synonym Discussion of mettle
METTLE Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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