Word of the Day : January 27, 2012


noun AHR-buh-list


: a crossbow especially of medieval times

Did You Know?

The arbalest was the distance weapon of choice for medieval armies. It was first mentioned in 1100 in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a historical record of Saxon England. In 1622 British historian Peter Heylyn wrote that Richard the Lion-Hearted, the 12th-century English monarch, was "slain by a shot from an Arbalist." The crossbow's name is one of many terms that came into English from Old French when the Normans took control of England after the Battle of Hastings; our word is adapted from "arbaleste," the French name of the weapon. The French, in turn, derived their word from a combination of Latin "arcus" (meaning "bow") and "ballista" ("an ancient crossbow for hurling large missiles").


The destructive power of the arbalest was so greatly feared during the 1100s that some governments tried to outlaw its use.

"During forensic examination, it was established that the murder was made using [an] arbalest. " -- From an article in States News Service, January 19, 2011

Word Family Quiz

What relative of "arbalest" can mean "extremely and suddenly excited, upset, or angry"? The answer is ...


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