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Thinktank Birmingham - object 1885S00224(1).jpg
A poniard in the collection of Thinktank museum, Birmingham, England
Blade typeDouble-edged,
straight bladed

A poniard or poignard (Fr.) is a long, lightweight thrusting knife with a continuously tapering, acutely pointed blade and crossguard, historically worn by the upper class, noblemen, or the knighthood. Similar in design to a parrying dagger, the poniard emerged during the Middle Ages and was used during the Renaissance in Western Europe, particularly in France, Switzerland, and Italy.[1][2]

During the Safavid era in Iran (1501-1736), the army used the poniard; it was considered a weapon especially typical to have for soldiers who originated from the Caucasus region, particularly Circassians, Georgians, and Armenians.[3]

Modern use

In modern French, the term poignard has come to be defined as synonymous with dague, the general term for "dagger",[4] and in English the term poniard has gradually evolved into a term for any small, slender dagger.[5] In literary usage it may also mean the actual act of stabbing or piercing with a dagger.[6]

The Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife may be thought of as a modern version of the poignard.

In culture

In Shakespeare's Hamlet (Act V, scene ii; line 3795), Laertes wagers "six French rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, and so" against six Barbary horses owned by King Claudius that in a fencing match Laertes will defeat Hamlet by three or more touches.

In the Gothic novel The Monk by Matthew Lewis, the novice monk Rosario threatens to commit suicide with a poignard during an argument with the senior monk Ambrosio.


  1. ^ "Brass-hilted Poignard". Ancient Edge. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Daggers Archived 2009-04-19 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Floor, Willem (2001). Safavid Government Institutions. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers. p. 225. ISBN 978-1568591353. Soldiers also used the poniard (...) It was typical for those soldiers originating from the Caucasus (Cherkes, Georgian, Armenian) where also the best poniards were made
  4. ^ Définition Poignard
  5. ^ Poniard, Dictionary.com
  6. ^ page 796 "The Concise Oxford Dictionary", ISBN 0-19-861131-5

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