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ra·​pi·​er ˈrā-pē-ər How to pronounce rapier (audio)
: a straight 2-edged sword with a narrow pointed blade


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: extremely sharp or keen
a rapier wit

Did you know?

A rapier is a straight, two-edged sword with a narrow pointed blade, designed especially for thrusting. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, "the long rapier was beautifully balanced, excellent in attack, and superb for keeping an opponent at a distance." The word itself, which we borrowed in the 16th century, is from Middle French rapiere. The first time that rapier was used as an adjective in its figurative "cutting" sense, it described a smile: "Who can bear a rapier smile? A kiss that dooms the soul to death?" ("The Lover's Lament" by Sumner Lincoln Fairfield, 1824). The adjective these days most commonly describes wit-an association that dates to the 1850s.

Examples of rapier in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
As the younger of two daughters to a divorced single mom, Bertinelli’s Barbara Cooper was the picture of precocity, displaying her rapier wit in zippy one-liners. Mayukh Sen, Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2024 Hollander digs his teeth into every scene, from Capote spouting the rapier wit that the writer used to bring down more than a few, to cooking in his Manhattan apartment. Lisa Respers France, CNN, 13 Mar. 2024 Some of his favorites include a Spanish cup-hilt rapier, a defensive left-hand dagger from the 15th century, and a Napoleonic cavalry saber. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 1 Mar. 2024 Guy Branum is a rapier wit, Lisa Gilroy is an improv beast, and Marcella Arguello is always the coolest person in the room. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 26 Jan. 2024 No one bothered to do the math, however, because Bentsen destroyed Quayle’s point with a rapier thrust. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2023 Like the introductory rivalry scene in which Cyrano’s rapier wit and rapier skills humiliate a celebrated theater ham just to win the flighty Roxanne’s attention, Wright aims to impress, but his flamboyance and foundering romanticism miss the mark. Armond White, National Review, 25 Feb. 2022 Thernum Broodfist Played by: Leah Becerra Moutain Dwarf, Fighter Fighters train in combat styles can swing an axe, fence with a rapier, wield or a greatsword. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Mar. 2023 Schroeder took on the powerful elite with her rapier wit and antics for 24 years, shaking up stodgy government institutions by forcing them to acknowledge that women had a role in government. Douglass K. Daniel, USA TODAY, 14 Mar. 2023
Blunt, already a veteran action hero, wields rifles and a rapier wit and does it all in Phoebe De Gaye’s stylishly constraining costumes. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Nov. 2022 And instead of rapier-thin thrusts to breach Ukraine’s borders, the Russian army and its separatist allies are now deployed along a contiguous front line shaped like a boomerang. Nabih Bulosstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 23 Apr. 2022 Hall has an absolutely rapier wit, one that slices through the customs and expectations of the British aristocracy with gleaming verve. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 11 Feb. 2022 The almost 40-story high-rise would contain a combination of office, retail, hotel and residential space in a rapier-thin tower. Steve Brown, Dallas News, 26 Oct. 2020 But there’s a fine line between forceful leadership and churlish self-absorption, and foot stomping is less effective than shredding an opponent with a rapier wit. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, 22 Oct. 2020 Known for his rapier wit, Murphy likes to dig the verbal knife into players, always making sure to do so with their peers as witnesses. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 18 Sep. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rapier.' 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 French (espee) rapiere

First Known Use


1553, in the meaning defined above


1824, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rapier was in 1553


Dictionary Entries Near rapier

Cite this Entry

“Rapier.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rapier. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a straight sword with a narrow blade having both edges sharp
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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