O.E. spere, from P.Gmc. *speri (cf. O.N. spjör, O.S., O.Fris. sper, Du. speer, O.H.G. sper, Ger. Speer "spear"), from PIE base *sper- "spear, pole" (cf. O.N. sparri "spar, rafter," and perhaps also L. sparus "hunting spear"). The verb is 1755. Spearmint first recorded 1539. Spearhead (n.) is attested from c.1400; fig. sense of "leading element" (of an attack, movement, etc.) is attested from 1893; the verb in this sense is recorded from 1938.