"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[met-l] /ˈmɛt l/
courage and fortitude:
a man of mettle.
disposition or temperament:
a man of fine mettle.
on one's mettle, in the position of being incited to do one's best:
The loss of the first round put him on his mettle to win the match.
Origin of mettle
1575-85; spelling variant of metal, in metaphoric usages
Can be confused
medal, meddle, metal, mettle.
1. valor, pluck, vigor, ardor, nerve, fiber. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mettle
  • He balances sentimentality with frank delight in testing the reader's mettle.
  • If you are a research scholar, test your mettle and spot the moniker.
  • Let's give him a chance to show his mettle.
  • The film is more than just a look at fanatics testing their mettle.
  • Foundation hospitals, which have more freedom to run their affairs, are starting to show their mettle.
  • Practice days like this test the mettle of college athletes.
  • Playing them, the orchestra finally began to show its mettle.
  • For every instrument, there is music that tests a player's mettle.
  • Today, multiple takes required for commercials and films test her mettle.
  • The time has come for those cells to prove their reputed mettle.
British Dictionary definitions for mettle


courage; spirit
inherent character
on one's mettle, roused to putting forth one's best efforts
Word Origin
C16: originally variant spelling of metal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mettle

1580s, variant spelling of metal, both forms used interchangeably (by Shakespeare and others) in the literal sense and in the figurative one of "stuff of which a person is made" (1550s) until the spellings and senses diverged early 18c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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