From Middle English sythe, sithe, from Old English sīþe, sīgþe, sigdi (“sickle”), from Proto-West Germanic *sigiþi, from Proto-Germanic *sigiþiz, *sigiþō, derived from *seg- (“saw”), from Proto-Indo-European *sek- (“to cut”).
Germanic cognates include Low German Sicht (“scythe”), Dutch zicht (“sickle”), Dutch zeis (“scythe”), Icelandic sigð (“sickle”). Related to saw, which see.
The silent c crept in 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.
scythe (plural scythes)
- 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”, in Shake-speares Sonnets. […], London: By G[eorge] Eld for T[homas] T[horpe] and are to be sold by William Aspley, →OCLC:
- 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.
- (historical) A scythe-shaped blade attached to ancient war chariots.
- (cartomancy) The tenth Lenormand card.
- Scythe on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- Scythe in the Encyclopædia Britannica (11th edition, 1911)
scythe (third-person singular simple present scythes, present participle scything, simple past and past participle scythed)
- (intransitive) To use a scythe. [from 1570s]
- (transitive) To cut with a scythe. [from 1570s]
- (transitive) To cut off as with a scythe; to mow. [from 1590s]
- (intransitive, figurative, often with through) 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.
- 2019 February 27, Drachinifel, The Battle of Samar - Odds? What are those?, archived from the original on 3 November 2022, 20:09 from the start:
- The smaller shells make a complete slaughterhouse of the bridge, and the splinters scythe through anyone out on deck.
- ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “scythe”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
See Scythe (“Scythian”)
scythe (plural scythes)
- “scythe”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.