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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.


  1. ^ George Redmonds; Turi King; David Hey (25 August 2011). Surnames, DNA, and Family History. Oxford University Press. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-0-19-162036-2.
  2. ^ Gabriele Stein (30 January 2014). Sir Thomas Elyot as Lexicographer. OUP Oxford. pp. 398–. ISBN 978-0-19-150618-5.
  3. ^ Glossographia Anglicana Nova; Or, A Dictionary Interpreting Such Hard Words of Whatever Language, as are at Present Used in the English Tongue: With Their Etymologies, Definitions, Etc. ... D. Brown. 1707. pp. 580–.
  4. ^ Samuel Johnson (1837). Miniature Edition of Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, with a Variety of Useful Tables and Lists. Stirling, Kenney. pp. 116–.
  5. ^ John Craig (1854). A New Universal, Technological, Etymological, and Pronouncing Dictionary of the English Language. pp. 954–.
  6. ^ Johann Gottfried Flügel; Napoleon N W. Meissner (1856). Vollständiges englisch-deutsches und deutsch-englisches Wörterbuch, bearb. von J. G. Flügel (N. N. W. Meissner). pp. 976–.
  7. ^ The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia: The Century dictionary ... prepared under the superintendence of William Dwight Whitney ... rev. & enl. under the superintendence of Benjamin E. Smith. Century Company. 1911. pp. 2924–.