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Cutlass & Machete are the same implement in modern usage - cutlass is the English (and thus, English Colonial) word for the implement, while machete is the Spanish (and thus, American) word. Guettarda 19:12, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The meaning of "machete" in English is rather narrower than in Spanish. In English "machete" strongly implies the absence of a handguard, while "cutlass" suggests a handguard, typically in the form of a knuckle bow. While it might be correct in Spanish to call a cutlass a machete, the precise meaning is better conveyed by sable de abordaje, and notably that is the word attached in the Spanish Wikipedia [[1]] to the same picture captioned "cutlass" in this article. --Pirate Dan 20:52, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Cutlasses used by pirates[edit]

I would dispute the contention that the heyday of the pirates was well over before the widespread adoption of the cutlass. In the trial transcript of Stede Bonnet's pirate crews, witnesses mentioned that after the pirates boarded their vessel they "clapped their hands to their Cutlashes." I beleive there are also several references to Captain Kidd's men beating people with the flats of their cutlasses.

I will wait for a response before editing the article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Piratedan (talkcontribs) 22:48, 2 March 2007 (UTC).

OK, not seeing any response, I'll go ahead and edit the article. --Pirate Dan 23:00, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Royal navy 1941[edit]

I'm doing a report for my school on the most recent millitary uses of various european swords. if anyone has more inforamtion on the comment regarding the cutlass used in a "boarding action" in 1941 it would be helpful to me- just send it to my talk page. thanks, Ryan shell 20:11, 9 March 2007 (UTC) is where I found it. Theblindsage (talk) 10:22, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Cutlasses, falchions, sabers and backswords[edit]

Previous version of the article said that pirate film cutlasses were incorrect because they substitute for backswords and falchions that were actually available to pirates. I won't dispute that at least some film cutlasses are inaccurate, but it makes no sense to say that they substitute for backswords: backsword is just a generic term for any single-edged sword, and single-edged cutlasses are legion in pirate movies. The falchion is essentially a medieval and Renaissance weapon, and by the 17th and 18th centuries it was no longer used except by certain pioneer units. There is no reason at all to say that pirates generally used falchions.

I wonder about the current version's statement that Mameluke cavalry used cutlasses. Usually we apply the word "saber" (or British "sabre") to a curved, single-edged cavalry sword. I suppose the Mameluke swords could be called "cutlasses" instead of sabers if they were notably shorter than other sabers, but does anyone know if that really is the case? Pirate Dan 19:02, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

It's not just length, but also thickness that matters. My understanding has been that the cutlass is a shorter, broader-bladed weapon then the saber, so as to avoid being entangled during shipboard fights. Longer, more regularly curved swords used for cutting and slashing tend to be termed sabers, while shorter, 'broader' blades for cutting tend to be termed either cutlasses or falchions. From what I've seen, the distinction lies in that falchions have irregular blade widths, being wider near the pointy end, and sabers have regular or declining blade widths through-out their lengths. But the Dao (Chinese saber) seems to violate this rule. To me, the saber is a cavalry weapon, by virtue of having the longer reach necessary for use on horseback, (including ride-by slashes) on a fluid battle, while the cutlass is a weapon for the closer quarters of ship-board battles. Theblindsage (talk) 10:16, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Invention of the cutlass[edit]

My statement that it has sometimes been claimed that Caribbean buccaneers invented the cutlass has acquired a weasel tag.

The statement was based on the history of this article. From November 2005 to March 2007, this article carried a statement, added in apparent good faith, that "According to pirate myth, the cutlass was invented by the Caribbean buccaneers." This lasted through 60 revisions over more than a year, so it appears that this myth found currency with at least some editors. I replaced this with a statement that there was no reason to believe such a thing (largely because the word "cutlass" dates at least as far back as the late 16th century, before the first Caribbean buccaneers settled on Hispaniola).

Is this an adequate basis for saying that it has sometimes been claimed that Caribbean buccaneers invented the cutlass?

Pirate Dan (talk) 22:15, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Category:Swords vs. Category:European swords[edit]

Category:European swords is itself a category within Category:Swords. — Robert Greer (talk) 21:06, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

404 Error for Referance?[edit]

Citation 1 is a broken link Remove it/fix it/delete it..... Thank you —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:29, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Replaced. Pirate Dan (talk) 16:38, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

US Navy and Cutlasses[edit]

I've edited the page as best as I could, but I'm sure one of you more experienced wikipedians can put what I mean more eloquently. At recruit training command of the US Navy, one recruit from each recruit division is designated as the Recruit Chief Petty Officer. This individual is not a real Chief, but rather one put in positional authority over recruits. This person wears a cutlass. The real Chiefs do not. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:17, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

False Etymology[edit]

It looks like simple vandalism, but there's an uncited claim that cutlasses are so called because they "cut less than original pirate swords..." This is inaccurate, as the word is based off of "coutelas," a 16th century corruption of "coltelaccio," Italian for "big knife." I should probably just correct it and cite it (maybe even make an etymology section), but I just wanted to make sure nobody had a source saying otherwise and that it is indeed vandalism. The Cap'n 16:19, 8 September 2010 (UTC)Askahrc (talkcontribs) 15:52, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

  • Since there are no objections, I'm going to add a etymology section. The Cap'n (talk) 16:01, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Clarification please?[edit]

From the article:

Often occurring with the full tang more typical of knives than swords in Europe, which is commonly believed to reflect a legal claim to nonweapon status, these blades may ultimately derive through the falchion (facon, falcon) from the seax.

I'm not sure what this was meant to say. It reads as if the editor is implying that European swords do not have a full tang, which is false: the tang runs through the cross and grip to the pommel in nearly every historical instance. The tang length had little to do with "nonweapon" [sic] status, which was based more on blade length and guard configuration. Although partial tang swords existed, they were the exception rather than the rule. Even in Roman times, so-called "barbarian" craftsmen were aware that a full tang made for a more secure grip and a stronger, more durable weapon. As for the hypothesis that the cutlass evolved from the falchion which evolved from the seax, this sounds like a weak "common sense" argument (therefore OR) and I'm not seeing any scholarship behind it. Thoughts? (talk) 20:08, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Sounds nonsensical Past the celtic bronze swords, all swords I'm aware of have full tangs. Without some sourcing, I'm inclined to call the bit about non-weapon status so dodgy that it should be disregarded as hearsay. The idea that the cutlass 'evolved' from the falchion, which in turn evolved from the seax, is blatant supposition. The seax is largely a dead-end--the characteristic cutting edge longer than the spine makes it unsuitable for hacking at anything. My best guess would be a transfer from the Barbary coast--long history of sabers with guards, and an equally long tradition of naval combat. (13th century onward). Theblindsage (talk) 01:28, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

I would assume that what they mean is a slab tang. In other words, rather than having the tang go through a hole in the wooden piece of the grip, it is sandwiched by wooden scales. The photograph on chef's knife is a good example of this.-- (talk) 17:57, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
The idea is commonly applied to the German messer-style swords, such as Grossmesser and Kriegsmesser which, indeed, do have these slab-tangs, much like a knife(messer meaning knife). The idea, in all honesty, is preposterous. "Oh, no, officer, this isn't a SWORD...that would be, this is a KNIFE, see?" What do you think the chances of anyone actually accepting that is? It would have about as much chance of working then as now. (talk) 22:53, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
There are lots of preposterous laws, carefully crafted to turn a blind eye to a popular but unworkable law. The US state of Kansas, not long ago, officially "prohibited" drinking establishments, but allowed liquor stores adjacent to "clubs" with no wall between them. IIRC, in medieval Japan, peasants couldn't own weapons, but could own farm implements, which were modified to be weapons, and are the origin of many martial arts weapons today. --A D Monroe III (talk) 01:06, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Yeah...and if you walk down the street with what is clearly an assault rifle, but which has the word 'Revolver' painted in large letters down the side...what do you think the police is going to say? "Oh, well, that's ok, I didn't realize." or "Sir, put your hands on your head, please."? (talk) 23:36, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Straw man argument. The fact that there have been laws like this does not imply that all laws are like this. --A D Monroe III (talk) 17:49, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

Machete Origin[edit]

Hmm. If I had to guess, I suggest either a 'bill' blade from a pole-arm as the source or some of the german messer (big knife) as the source of the machete. If you wish to do some research, I'd suggest looking into the etymology of 'falchion'/'falcon'. Off the cuff, 'Falcon' may refer to the bird, and thence to a bill-hook (pole-arm) of some kind (via the shape of the blade). Also possible would be an African source of the machete--there is a tradition of large, guardless swords in the Ibo culture. I would recommend deleting any reference to a relationship between the seax, falchion, and cutlass. Theblindsage (talk) 01:28, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

for what it's worth, the Atlantic article (which I've added as a citation) states that the machete's history is obscure but is believed to be derived from the falchion and billhook (the article mentions cutlass only as the contemporary word for machete in the English Carribeen) Geoffrey.landis (talk) 15:29, 25 January 2015 (UTC)


"In times of peace the Ottoman Empire supplied no arms, and the Janissaries on service in the capital of Constantinople were armed only with clubs; they were forbidden to carry any arms save a cutlass, known as a yatagan."

There's no reference for the implication that the yatagan is a cutlass, and the information here is not on the yatagan page, which shows a weapon more like a short saber with no guard. Unless there's some citation suggesting the yatagan to be a cutlass, let's drop this. Geoffrey.landis (talk) 15:29, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

--Update: I found the reference; it's from a web page on the pirate cutlass, from which the original sentence was copied verbatim: This isn't really a reliable reference. But it's an interesting page; I'll add it as a citation.Geoffrey.landis (talk) 15:34, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Guard term[edit]

a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket-shaped guard. It was a common naval weapon.

The head image used in this article has a guard alongside the handle but it seems neither solid-cupped or basket-shaped, just a narrow metal line, kind of like the one in the header image for Jake and the Never Land Pirates.

As neither cup or basket seem appropriate when it is this minimalist. Would knuckle-bow be the right term? (talk) 17:04, 25 September 2015 (UTC)