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quarterstaff

[kwawr-ter-staf, -stahf] /ˈkwɔr tərˌstæf, -ˌstɑf/
noun, plural quarterstaves
[kwawr-ter-steyvz] /ˈkwɔr tərˌsteɪvz/ (Show IPA),
quarterstaffs.
1.
a former English weapon consisting of a stout pole 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) long, tipped with iron.
2.
exercise or fighting with this weapon.
Origin of quarterstaff
1540-1550
1540-50; quarter + staff1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for quarterstaff

quarterstaff

/ˈkwɔːtəˌstɑːf/
noun (pl) -staves (-ˌsteɪvz; -ˌstɑːvz)
1.
a stout iron-tipped wooden staff about 6ft long, formerly used in England as a weapon
2.
the use of such a staff in fighting, sport, or exercise
Word Origin
C16: of uncertain origin
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 quarterstaff
n.

also quarter-staff, 1540s (quarter-stroke "stroke with a quarterstaff" is attested from early 15c.), stout pole, six to eight feet long (six-and-a-half sometimes is given as the standard length), tipped with iron, formerly a weapon used by the English peasantry. From staff (n.). The quarter likely is in reference to its operation.

It was grasped by one hand in the middle, and by the other between the middle and the end. In the attack the latter hand shifted from one quarter of the staff to the other, giving the weapon a rapid circular motion, which brought the ends on the adversary at unexpected points. [Century Dictionary]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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