ar·​ba·​lest | \ ˈär-bə-list How to pronounce arbalest (audio) \
variants: or arbalist

Definition of arbalest

: a crossbow especially of medieval times

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The arbalest was the distance weapon of choice for medieval armies. It was first mentioned in 1100 in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a historical record of Saxon England. In 1622 British historian Peter Heylyn wrote that Richard the Lion-Hearted, the 12th-century English monarch, was "slain by a shot from an Arbalist." The crossbow's name is one of many terms that came into English from Old French when the Normans took control of England after the Battle of Hastings; our word is adapted from "arbaleste," the French name of the weapon. The French, in turn, derived their word from a combination of Latin arcus (meaning "bow") and "ballista" ("an ancient crossbow for hurling large missiles").

First Known Use of arbalest

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for arbalest

Middle English arblast, from Anglo-French arblaste, arcbaleste, from Late Latin arcuballista, from Latin arcus bow + ballista — more at arrow

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The first known use of arbalest was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Arbalest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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