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A hurlbat (or whirlbat, whorlbat) is a weapon of unclear original definition. Older reference works refer to it largely as a type of club, either held in the hand or possibly thrown. Modern usage appears to refer to a type of throwing-axe.

Dictionary references[edit]

The term was used as a by-name in England as early as 1327, and the hurlebatte was mentioned, possibly as a type of club, among the pikestaff and sword and buckler in a 1440 text.[1]

  • The 16th-century Thomas Elyot dictionary uses the term to translate a Latin word, and describes a throwing action: Adides, short battes of a cubyte longe and an halfe, hauynge pikes of yron in theym, and were tyed to a lyne, that whanne they were throwen, he that did cast thẽ, mought plucke them agayn vnto him, hurlebattes.[2]
  • A 1707 English dictionary defines whorlbat as "a kind of Gauntlet with Straps and leaden Plummets, uſed by the ancient Heroes in their ſolemn Games and Exerciſes.[3]
  • An 1837 edition of the Samuel Johnson dictionary defined it as simply "a weapon",[4]
  • An 1854 John Craig dictionary defined it as "an old kind of weapon".[5]
  • An 1856 German-English dictionary used whirlbat as synonymous with "club for fighting".[6]
  • A 1911 dictionary notes it to be a kind of club or cudgel, so called because whirled around the head. It does not appear that such a weapon was thrown.[7]

Modern usage[edit]

In modern usage, the term is used to refer to a throwing axe made of a single sheet of thin metal, sharpened to a point or blade on every auxiliary end.