on one's mettle

mettle

[met-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:
1575–85; spelling variant of metal, in metaphoric usages

medal, meddle, metal, mettle.


1. valor, pluck, vigor, ardor, nerve, fiber.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mettle (ˈmɛtəl)
 
n
1.  courage; spirit
2.  inherent character
3.  on one's mettle roused to putting forth one's best efforts
 
[C16: originally variant spelling of metal]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

mettle
1581, variant spelling of metal, both of which were used interchangeably (by Shakespeare and others) in the literal sense and in the figurative sense of "stuff of which a person is made" until the spellings and senses diverged early 18c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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