: a handle especially of a sword or dagger
to the hilt
: to the very limit : completely
the farm was mortgaged to the hilt
: with nothing lacking
played the role to the hilt

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In some cases, they had been leveraged to the hilt with only a sliver of equity underpinning liabilities. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 11 July 2022 Henriksen plays his part to the hilt here, bringing a gravitas that few actors would consider bringing to the role of a shoot-'em-up movie villain. Declan Gallagher, EW.com, 11 Jan. 2023 Between 1928 and 1939, Jean Rhys published four novels—Quartet, After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, Voyage in the Dark, and Good Morning, Midnight—all of which exploit this sense of despair to the hilt. Vivian Gornick, The New Republic, 6 Jan. 2023 The team turned to the dagger’s gold hilt, decorated with intricate patterns of fine gold grains and stones of lapis lazuli, carnelian and malachite. Marisa Sloan, Discover Magazine, 4 Nov. 2022 The team also found iron fasteners from the hull; rings and pins from the rigging; olive jars; plates; a silver sword hilt; and other personal belongings once part of the 891-ton Maravillas. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 2 Aug. 2022 The country music writing team of Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally makes a smooth transition to the stage with songs that perfectly rise from the emotional moments, offering ear-worm melodies and on-the-money theatrical moments which the talented cast plays to the hilt. Frank Rizzo, Variety, 5 Apr. 2023 There, at a Christian elementary school, an assailant armed to the hilt with weapons of mass destruction shot through the glass doors and proceeded to murder three staff members, and three 9-year-old children. Globe Columnist, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Mar. 2023 His father loved to stay borrowed up to the hilt. Dallas News, 1 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hilt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German helza hilt

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hilt was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near hilt

Cite this Entry

“Hilt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hilt. Accessed 28 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a handle especially of a sword or dagger

More from Merriam-Webster on hilt

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