Dagger: Wikis


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Modern Winchester Riot Dagger and sheath

A dagger (probably from Vulgar Latin: 'daca' - a Dacian knife) is a double-edged blade used for stabbing or thrusting. They often fulfill the role of a secondary defense weapon in close combat. In most cases, a tang extends into the handle along the centreline of the blade.

Daggers may be differentiated from knives on the basis that daggers are intended primarily for stabbing whereas knives are usually single-edged and intended mostly for cutting. However, many knives and daggers are capable of either stabbing or cutting.


Early history

Much like battle axes, daggers evolved out of prehistoric tools. In Neolithic times, daggers were made of materials such as flint, ivory or bone and were used as weapons since the earliest periods of human civilization. The earliest metal daggers appear in the Bronze Age, in the 3rd millennium BC, predating the sword, which essentially developed from oversized daggers. Although the standard dagger is in many cases was not as effective as axes, spears, or even maces due to its limited reach, it was an important step towards the development to what is often seen as a more useful close-combat weapon, the sword.

Celtic dagger and sheath

However, from pre-dynastic Egypt,[1] daggers were adorned as ceremonial objects with golden hilts and later even more ornate and varied construction. One early silver dagger was recovered with midrib design. Traditionally, some military and naval officers wore dress daggers as symbols of power, and modern soldiers are still equipped with combat knives and knife bayonets. In the second century BCE, socketed daggers were known to be used in Minoan Crete as evidenced by archaeological recovery at the Knossos site.[2]

Historically, knives and daggers were always considered secondary or even tertiary weapons. Most cultures mainly fought with pole weapons, swords, and axes at arm's length if not already utilizing bows, spears, slings, or other long-range weapons. Roman soldiers were issued a pugio.

From the year 1250 onward, gravestones and other contemporary images show knights with a dagger or combat knife at their side. The hilt and blade shapes began to resemble smaller versions of swords and led to a fashion of ornamented sheaths and hilts in the late 15th century.

Symbolism and use

The dagger is symbolically ambiguous. It may be associated with cowardice and treachery due to the ease of concealment and surprise that someone could inflict with one on an unsuspecting victim—many assassinations were reportedly carried out using one. Victims of such assassinations included Julius Caesar, who suffered from 23 stab wounds from irate members of the Roman Senate. On the other hand, the dagger may symbolically suggest a determination to become courageously close to the enemy.

With the advent of very protective plate armour during the Middle Ages, the dagger became increasingly useful as a good close in weapon for stabbing through the gaps in armour. Books offering instruction on the use of weapons predominantly described that the dagger be held in the hand with the blade pointing from the heel of the hand both in armour and out of armour, and used by making downward jabs. Straight jabs from a normal hammer grip were also used, though icepick style jabs are more commonly depicted in manuals. The dagger was quite a common murder weapon, easily used by commoners or vengeful aristocrats who wished to remain anonymous.

With the development of firearms, the dagger lost more and more of its usefulness in military combat; multipurpose knives/bayonets and handguns replaced them. However, beginning with the 17th century, another form of dagger—the plug bayonet and later the socket bayonet—was used to convert muskets and other longarms into spears by mounting them on the barrel.

Daggers achieved public notoriety in the 20th century as ornamental uniform regalia during the Fascist dictatorships of Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. The resurgence of these dress daggers and accoutrements in post-WW1 Germany gave a much needed boost to the flagging fortunes of the metalworking center Solingen. Dress daggers were used by several other countries as well, including Japan but never to the same extent as those worn by the Military and Political bodies of the Third Reich. As combat equipment they were carried by many infantry and commando forces during the Second World War. British commandos had an especially slender dagger, the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife, developed from that used in Shanghai. U.S. Marine Corps Raiders in the Pacific carried a similar fighting dagger, and others were fashioned for American forces and their allies from cut-down World War I Patton sabers.

See also


  • Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards, Cyril John Gadd, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond (1970) The Cambridge Ancient History, Cambridge University Press, 780 pages ISBN 0521070511

External links

Line notes

  1. ^ Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards, Cyril John Gadd, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, 1970
  2. ^ C. Michael Hogan, Knossos fieldnotes, Modern Antiquarian (2007)

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DAGGER, a hand weapon with a short blade. The derivation is obscure (cf. Fr. dague and Ger. Degen), but the word is related to dag, a long pointed jag such as would be made in deeply nicking the edge of a garment. The war knife in various forms and under many names has of course been in use in all ages and amongst all races. But the dagger as generally understood was not a short sword, but a special stabbing weapon which could be used along with the sword. The distinction is often difficult to establish in a given case owing to the variations in the length of the weapon. The principal medieval dagger was the misericorde, which from the end of the 12th century was used, in all countries in which chivalry flourished, to penetrate the joints of the armour of an unhorsed adversary (hence Ger. Panzerbrecher, armour-breaker). It was so called either because the threat of it caused the vanquished to surrender "at mercy," or from its use in giving what was called the coup de grace. From about 1330 till the end of the succeeding century, in many knightly effigies it is often represented as attached on the right side by a cord or a chain to the sword-belt. This weapon and its sheath were often elaborately adorned. It was customary to secure it from accidental loss by a guard-chain fastened to the breastarmour. Occasionally the misericorde was fixed to the bodyarmour by a staple; or, more rarely, it was connected with a gypciere or pouch. The misericorde may be called a poniard. The distinction between the dagger and the poniard is arbitrary, and in ordinary language the latter is taken as being the shorter and as having less resemblance to a short sword or cutlass. A weapon, with a longer blade than the misericorde, was habitually worn by civilians, including judges, during the middle ages; such weapons bore the name of anlace (from annulus, as it was fastened by a ring), basilarde or langue de bceuf, the last from the broad ox-tongue shape of the blade. This had often a small knife fixed on the scabbard, like a Highland officer's dirk of the present day. By nobles and knights the dagger or poniard was worn when they had exchanged their armour for the costume of peace. It is recorded besides that when they appeared at a tournament and on some other occasions, ladies at that time wore daggers depending, with their gypcieres, from their girdles. Thus, writing of the year 1348, Knighton speaks of certain ladies who were present at jousts as "habentes cultellos, quos daggerios vulgariter dicunt, in powchiis desuper impositis." A longer and heavier dagger with a broad blade (Italian) is called cinquedea. The Scottish "dirk" was a long dagger, and survives in name in the dirk worn by midshipmen of the royal navy, and in fact in that worn by officers of Highland regiments. In the 15th and 16th centuries the infantry soldiers (Swiss or landsknecht) carried a heavy poniard or dagger. This and the earlier Spanish dagger with a thumb-ring were distinctively the weapons of professional soldiers. The rise of duelling produced another type, called the main gauche, which was a parrying weapon and often had a toothed edge on which the adversary's sword was caught and broken. One form of this dagger had a blade which expanded into a triple fork on pressing a spring; this served the same purpose. The satellites of the Vehmgericht had a similar weapon, in order, it is suggested, that their acts should be done in the name of the Trinity. The smaller poniards are generally called "stilettos." Much ingenuity and skill have been lavished on the adornment of daggers, and in rendering the blades more capable of inflicting severe wounds. Daggers also were sometimes made to poison as well as to wound. Of oriental daggers may be mentioned the Malay "crease " or "kris," which has a long waxed blade; the Gurkha "kukri," a short curved knife, broadest and heaviest towards the point; and the Hindu "khuttar," which has a flat triangular-shaped blade, and a hilt of H-shape, the cross-bar forming the grip and the sides the guard.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

A short, edged, and pointed weapon for stabbing. It is given in the Ehud episode (Jdg 3:16, 21, 22) as the English equivalent for "ḥereb," which elsewhere is rendered "sword." See Sword).

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

Simple English

Riot Dagger and sheath]]

A dagger is a knife which is used to stab people. It has a double-edged blade, so it cannot be used for normal cutting like a knife.

Daggers are small, so they can often be hidden under the attacker's clothing and then suddenly produced.

Some people who were assassinated were killed by a dagger, such as Julius Caesar.

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