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Denotation vs. Connotation

mettle

[met-l] /ˈmɛt l/
noun
1.
courage and fortitude:
a man of mettle.
2.
disposition or temperament:
a man of fine mettle.
Idioms
3.
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
1575-1585
1575-85; spelling variant of metal, in metaphoric usages
Can be confused
medal, meddle, metal, mettle.
Synonyms
1. valor, pluck, vigor, ardor, nerve, fiber.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mettle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Texas cattle put the horse and his rider more on their mettle than these grade cattle.

    Jack the Young Cowboy George Bird Grinnell
  • They'll be on their mettle, the both of 'em, more 'specially Diablo.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Those curious words of the mysterious girl had placed me upon my mettle.

    Hushed Up William Le Queux
  • The assistant was on his mettle, and either failed or triumphed.

  • They asked questions which went to the heart of the business and put me to my mettle to answer them.

    The New Freedom Woodrow Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for mettle

mettle

/ˈmɛtəl/
noun
1.
courage; spirit
2.
inherent character
3.
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
n.

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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