Basic Sword Parts Terminology
Blade - It is the
steel length that forms the sword.
Back - The blade side opposite to the sharpened edge is
the back. Double edged swords do not have a back.
Cross-guard - Cross or the cross guard is the Medieval
term of the straight bar guard in the hilt.
Edge - This is the sharpened portion of the blade. A
sword may be single or double-edged.
Hilt - It is the lower portion of the sword consisting of
the cross-guard, handle/grip, and pommel
Quillions - A Renaissance term for the two cross-guards
Forte - It is the Renaissance term for the lower portion
of the blade that is strong and does most of the parrying. It is also called
prime or fort.
Foible - It is a Renaissance term for the upper portion
of the blade that is weaker than the forte but more agile and flexible. It
does the attacking.
Fuller - It is a shallow central groove along the length
of the blade. The narrow deep fullers are called fluke. The purpose is to
improve rigidity, strength and flexibility, similar to the spine.
Grip - It is the handle of the sword that could be made
of leather, wire, wood, bone, horn, or ivory.
Lower end - It is the tip portion of a Medieval sword
Pommel - It is the Latin for "little apple",
the the weight balance that holds the hilt to the blade and allows the hand
to rest on it or grip it. Sometimes it includes a small rivet called a
pommel nut, pommel bolt, or tang nut. It could be used as a secondary
weapon. It could be of various shapes like disks, balls and crescents etc.
It was one of the fashionable and decorative part of the sword.
Ricasso - It is the dull portion of a blade just above
the hilt. It provides the secondary grip but not all swords have it.
Shoulder - It is the corner of the sword separating the
blade from the tang.
Tang - It is the un-edged hidden portion of the blade
that goes through the handle and attached to the pommel. The place where the
tang joins the blade is called the "shoulder".
Waisted-grip - it is a specially shaped handle of bastard
swords, consisting of a slightly wider middle and tapering towards the
Tip - It is the end of the blade opposite to the hilt. It
may be pointed or rounded, straight or curved.
Annellet/Finger-Ring - they are the small loops on the
cross guard towards the blade to protect the fingers wrapped on the guard.
They were most common in late medieval and renaissance period.
Compound-Hilt/Complex-Guard - It is a common term for the
hilts of the Renaissance swords. It can be in various forms of swept,
basket, and cage hilts. It comprises of quillon, side-rings, and a knuckle
bar in various combinations.