RAPIER, the name given to two distinct types of sword. Originally the " rapier " (Fr. rapi'ere) was a long two-edged and pointed weapon with a wide cup hilt, used together with the dagger in fencing and duelling chiefly as a thrusting weapon, the cut taking a secondary position. This was the typical duelling sword of the 16th and 1yth centuries. In the 18th century the " small-sword " took its place; this was a pointed weapon only, the " cut " having entirely dropped out, and the dagger being discarded. The word rapier is of doubtful origin. Du Cange (Glossarium, s.v. " Rapparia ") quotes an example of the word used as an adjective to qualify espfe as early as 1474, and gives as a conjectural derivation Gr. f>am^fiv = Lal. caedcre, to cut. Skeat (Etym. Diet., 1910) follows the suggestion of Diez that rapi'ere is from raspiere, a rasper or poker, and was a name given in contempt by the old cut-and-thrust fencers to the new weapon. Spanish has raspadera, a raker, and there are several 16th and i;th century quotations alluding to the contempt with which the rapier was greeted, and to its Spanish origin (see FENCING and SWORD).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)