Context and definition
Carroll published Through the Looking-Glass in 1871. Near the beginning, Alice discovers and reads "Jabberwocky". The word "vorpal" appears twice in the poem, which describes a young boy's quest to slay a monster called the Jabberwock:
- He took his vorpal sword in hand:
- One, two! One, two! And through and through
- The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
- He left it dead, and with its head
- He went galumphing back.
As with much of the rest of the poem's vocabulary, the reader is left to guess at the meaning of "vorpal" from the context. It is commonly assumed to mean "deadly" or "sharp", but could also be referring to the fictional metal Vorpium of which the sword may be composed. Some readers have imagined other properties the word could describe. Alexander L. Taylor points out in his Carroll biography The White Knight that "vorpal" can be formed by taking letters alternately from "verbal" and "gospel".
Carroll himself once wrote, "I am afraid I can't explain 'vorpal blade' for you—nor yet 'tulgey wood.'"
The vorpal sword, bearing an appearance similar to a khopesh, appears in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland as the weapon used to imprison the Jabberwocky; when impaled with it, she is rendered immobile and her powers are neutralized. It is held by Jafar rather than Alice in this series.
In the book Daemon, a weapon in the fictional game The Gate a copy of which is owned by the character John Ross.
In Kuroko no Basket - Extra Game manga, the new dream team consists of Kuroko, Kagami, Akashi, Midorima, Aomine, Murasakibara, and Kise named VORPAL SWORD. The new opponent they face, which has speciality in street basketball from USA, is called Jabberwock.
Shen, a champion in the videogame League of Legends, has an ability called "Vorpal Blade".
- Gardner, Martin, ed. (1971) . The Annotated Alice. New York: The World Publishing Company. pp. 195–196.
- "Adventure Time finn's powers". Youtube.com. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- "Magic Weapons :: d20srd.org". d20srd.org. Retrieved 9 March 2015.