See also: Scythe


scythe (1) (larger) and sickle (smaller)

Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English sythe, sithe, from Old English sīþe, sīġþe, siġdi (sickle), from Proto-Germanic *sigiþiz, *sigiþō, derived from *seg- (saw), from Proto-Indo-European *sek- (to cut).[1]

Germanic cognates include Low German Sicht (scythe), Dutch zicht (sickle), Icelandic sigð (sickle). Related to saw, which see.

The silent c crept in the early 15th century owing to pseudoetymological association with Medieval Latin scissor (tailor, carver), from Latin scindere (to cut, rend, split).

The verb, which was first used in the intransitive sense, is from the noun.


  • IPA(key): /ˈsaɪð/, (some accents) IPA(key): /ˈsaɪθ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪð, -aɪθ


scythe (plural scythes)

  1. An instrument for mowing grass, grain, etc. by hand, composed of a long, curving blade with a sharp concave edge, fastened to a long handle called a snath. [before 10th century]
    • 1609, William Shakespeare, Sonnet 12[1]:
      And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
      Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 41:
      Early next morning the gudewife took a scythe on her shoulder, and went out in the fields with the hay-mowers to mow.
  2. (historical) A scythe-shaped blade attached to ancient war chariots.
  3. (cartomancy) The tenth Lenormand card.


Further readingEdit


scythe (third-person singular simple present scythes, present participle scything, simple past and past participle scythed)

  1. (intransitive) To use a scythe. [from 1570s]
  2. (transitive) To cut with a scythe. [from 1570s]
  3. (transitive) To cut off as with a scythe; to mow. [from 1590s]
  4. (intransitive, figuratively) To attack or injure as if cutting.
    • 2011, Catherine Sampson, The Pool of Unease:
      The boy began to keen, and the high-pitched noise scythed through Song's head.

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “scythe”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.




See Scythe (Scythian)



scythe (plural scythes)

  1. Scythian