Word of the Day – Mettle

Word of the Day : October 4, 2021


noun MET-ul

What It Means

Mettle refers to the ability to continue in spite of difficulties.

// The contestants proved their mettle by completing the triathlon.

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“Recently, 23 of Watauga’s best math students met virtually to test their mettle against their peers in the annual MathCounts competition—a contest that tasks young mathematicians to tackle challenging math problems in a timed tournament format.” — The Blowing Rocket (Blowing Rock, North Carolina), 22 Apr. 2021

Did You Know?

Originally, mettle was simply a variant spelling of the word metal (which dates to at least the 13th century), and it was used in all of the same senses as its metallic relative. Over time, however, mettle came to be used mainly in figurative senses referring to the quality of someone’s character. It eventually became a distinct English word in its own right, losing its literal sense altogether. Metal remained a term primarily used for those hard, shiny substances such as steel or iron, but it also acquired a figurative use. Today, both words can mean “vigor and strength of spirit or temperament,” but only metal is used of metallic substances.