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primitive weapon consisting of a wooden shaft tipped with a sharp point, usually 8 to 9 ft (2.4–2.7 m) in length. The point may be carved from the shaft and hardened in a fire, or made from another material; the oldest non-wood spear tips were of flint, later of bronze, and ultimately of steel. The spear has been in use since prehistoric times, as a missile or thrusting weapon. Wooden spears some 400,000 years old have been found at Schöningen, Germany, and in South Africa stone points roughly 500,000 years old that may have been used on thrusting spears have been found. Spear-throwers, such as the atlatlatlatl
[Nahuatl], device used to throw a spear with greater propulsion. Atlatls began to be used in the Americas in the post-Pleistocene period and were eventually replaced by the bow and arrow.
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 of the ancient Americas, are hooked sticks that are held in the hand in such a way as to increase the range and force with which a spear can be thrown. From the spears of antiquity the medieval lance and pike evolved. The pike is a long wooden shaft with a steel point that sometimes has a hook on one side. Longer by 2 or 3 ft (61–91 cm) than spears, lances were used by many European cavalry units as recently as the early 20th cent. In a few countries they are still borne in ceremonial military formations, sometimes with a small pennant near the point. Primitive peoples in remote areas still hunt and fight with spears, sometimes putting poison on the tips.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a thrusting or throwing weapon used in war and in hunting by most of the peoples of the world.

The spear appeared in the Paleolithic age. Originally it was a stick with a pointed end. Later, it consisted of a shaft, from 1.5 to 5 m long, and a tip (the tip was made of stone or bone in the Stone Age and of metal in the Bronze Age). Spears became especially widespread in the Iron Age.

The Roman infantry was armed with a spear (pilum) consisting of a heavy and long iron part. In the Middle Ages the knightly cavalry and infantry were armed with spears. In ancient Rus’, also, the spear was a weapon of the infantry and the cavalry; throwing spears (sulitsy) were carried in special quivers. Most medieval spears had faceted tips that could pierce the defensive armor of the enemy. A variety of the light and long spear, the pike, was retained in the infantry until the late 17th and early 18th centuries and in the cavalry until the early 20th century. Spears are still used as hunting weapons by some present-day backward tribes in Africa, South America, and other parts of the world.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a spear?

Throwing a spear in a dream represents thrusting one’s will and power into the world and is thus a statement of strength and commitment.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(design engineering)
A rodlike fishing tool having a barbed-hook end, used to recover rope, wire line, and other materials from a borehole.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


weapon plunged into Jesus’s side during crucifixion. [N.T.: John 19:34]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a shoot, slender stalk or blade, as of grass, asparagus, or broccoli
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Ian Spearing: wanted Coral to take more active role in industry
Officials must call spearing penalties when a player leads with the top of the helmet in an unsafe tackling method.
Spearing noted that Ragan has a lot of specific requirements--for example, the capability to let a subscriber to multiple pubs log on only once.
The arrival of the young striker was confirmed on the same day that midfielder Spearing agreed to join Championship side Bolton on an initial six month loan deal.