mettle

noun
met·​tle | \ ˈme-tᵊl How to pronounce mettle (audio) \

Definition of mettle

1a : vigor and strength of spirit or temperament (see temperament sense 1a) a girl of … mettle who lost a baby brother to leukemia— Bill Zehme
b : staying quality : stamina equipment that proved its mettle proved his mettle in battle
2 : quality of temperament or disposition gentlemen of brave mettle— William Shakespeare
on one's mettle
: aroused to do one's best

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Other Words from mettle

mettled \ -​tᵊld How to pronounce mettled (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for mettle

courage, mettle, spirit, resolution, tenacity mean mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship. courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. the courage to support unpopular causes mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience. a challenge that will test your mettle spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one's own or keep up one's morale when opposed or threatened. her spirit was unbroken by failure resolution stresses firm determination to achieve one's ends. the resolution of pioneer women tenacity adds to resolution implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat. held to their beliefs with great tenacity

Is mettle Connected to Metal?

Originally, mettle was simply a variant spelling of the word metal (which dates to at least the 13th 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.

Examples of mettle in a Sentence

The competition will test her mettle.

Recent Examples on the Web

The first test of her political mettle will come at three local elections in eastern Germany next year, where the AfD is expected to steal a chunk of the CDU vote and, in some states, become the largest party. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, "Election of Merkel Ally Defuses Threat to Her Authority, for Now," 7 Dec. 2018 Judging by the breakneck trailer, Violet embarks on a whirlwind tour that tests her mettle in every way. Dan Barna, Teen Vogue, "Elle Fanning Stars in "Teen Spirit" Trailer as a Pop Star," 27 Dec. 2018 Here’s how Capy describes it: Test your adventurer mettle against The Isle’s procedural subterranean labyrinths. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Long-awaited survival game Below is out next week," 6 Dec. 2018 Chris McCullough Coming off several G League assignments, McCullough is another player who has a chance to show his NBA mettle. Sarah Todd, Philly.com, "Sixers' summer league preview: Which players could stand out in Las Vegas?," 5 July 2018 USA TODAY Sports Mid-major Loyola-Chicago showed its mettle again versus a power conference team, and used its synergetic offense and top-five defense to pull off another last-second upset. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Final Four good? Six reasons Loyola-Chicago is more than just your average Cinderella," 17 Mar. 2018 Here, our group eased into conversation about past travels, in the way strangers on the same itinerary do in order to take the measure of each other’s mettle. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "Want Serious Bragging Rights? Do a Road Trip Across Borneo," 16 Nov. 2018 Instead, Lyons is testing her mettle in the turbulent world of media. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Jenna Lyons, the former powerhouse behind J.Crew, finally announced her next move," 9 Oct. 2018 With the help of the company's first full-time employee, Jeff Johnson, Knight proved his mettle as a salesman, pushing the company to a million dollars in sales by 1970. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "How a Dirty Old Waffle Iron Became Nike's Holy Grail," 15 July 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mettle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mettle

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for mettle

alteration of metal

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Statistics for mettle

Last Updated

6 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mettle

The first known use of mettle was in 1581

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More Definitions for mettle

mettle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of mettle

: strength of spirit : ability to continue despite difficulties

mettle

noun
met·​tle | \ ˈme-tᵊl How to pronounce mettle (audio) \

Kids Definition of mettle

: strength of spirit : courage The competition will test her mettle.

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More from Merriam-Webster on mettle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mettle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mettle

Spanish Central: Translation of mettle

Nglish: Translation of mettle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on mettle

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