Definition of mettle
1a : vigor and strength of spirit or temperament (see temperament 1a) a girl of … mettle who lost a baby brother to leukemia — Bill Zehmeb : 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
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Examples of mettle in a Sentence
The competition will test her mettle.
Recent Examples of mettle from the Web
The Cliburn is clearly set up to test the mettle of its competitors.
Maybe Jared Healey's impressive mettle comes from growing up in the blue-collar neighborhood of Bridesburg.
Five decades ago, the best drivers in the world often tested their mettle at the Brickyard.
That this obsession hasn't consumed Cooper is a testament to her mettle, sharpened over 22 years of brutal, self-effacing critiques while walking a mental tight rope during her prolific career.
Single mutations venture into an unforgiving ecosystem and test their mettle.
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.
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: 1581See Words from the same year
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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