Definition of mettle
1a : vigor and strength of spirit or temperament (see temperament 3b) <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>
mettledplay \-təld\ adjective
on one's mettle
: aroused to do one's best
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 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.
Origin and Etymology of mettle
alteration of metal
First Known Use: 1581
Synonym Discussion of mettle
METTLE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of mettle for English Language Learners
: strength of spirit : ability to continue despite difficulties
METTLE Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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