A scimitar (pronounced /ˈsɪmɪtər/) is a backsword with a curved blade, originating in Southwest Asia (Middle East).
The name can be used to refer to almost any West Asian or South Asian sword with a curved blade, and is often thought of as having a ridge near the end. They include Arabic saif, Indian talwar, Persian shamshir, and Turkish kilij and yatağan, among others.
"Scimitar", known in English since 1548, is derived from the Middle French cimeterre (15c.) or from the Italian scimitarra, a term of uncertain origin. Perhaps the source is Persian shamshir, but the OED finds this explanation "unsatisfactory".
The following swords are usually called scimitars:
Scimitars were used in horse warfare because of their relatively light weight when compared to larger swords and their curved design, good for slashing opponents while riding on a horse. Mongols, Rajputs and Sikhs used scimitars in warfare, among many other peoples.
Many Islamic traditions adopted scimitars, as attested by their symbolic occurrence, e.g. on the Coat of arms of Saudi Arabia.
The earliest known use of scimitars is from the 9th century, when they were used among soldiers in the Khurasan region of Persia.
The character Yellow Robe in Journey to the West used scimitar(s). In the film The 13th Warrior, Antonio Banderas' character Ahmad ibn Fadlan makes a scimitar out of a viking sword after finding it too heavy. In fantasy literature, R. A. Salvatore's character Drizzt Do'Urden is known for preferring twin scimitars in combat. Also, it has become a stereotype that seafaring pirates favored this type of sword. This is most likely due to the Barbary Corsairs.
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