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Other Whats the difference between a knife and a sword?


New Member
I have been mulling this concept over and determined to open it to debate. I have a partially serrated blade that, from tip to hilt, is around 20 inches, maybe longer. I do not have it on me, so I can't get an exact size. I tend to think about this as a knife, but I have visible further sized blades be known as swords (handmade wakizashi swords). Is the whole sword/knife aspect determined through size, or Is there a extraordinary factor to keep in mind?

Tito Tim

Experienced Poster
TubeBuddy Pro
Lots of theories on this. Many contradictory theories...
Length is used sometimes - over a foot long is a sword, except when it is not. A German messer is a "long knife". They can be almost a meter long, yet '‎Knife‎' is German for 'knife'. So... size does not matter...
Swords have hilts, except when they do not.
Single edge/double edge?

I think of more of the intended use. Is my machete a long knife or a short sword? I think it is a long knife. My bolo is a knife, but I would not carry it around in the US. I can carry it in the Philippines (ok, I have never taken it to the city ha ha). Those are both knives. We use them for cutting brush and bamboo, not cutting people. I would not generally use a sword to cut bamboo or harvest rice.

When I retired, I left all my knives & swords with my son. Most are costume pieces - we were very active in the renaissance fairs.



Professional cat wrangler
Subscriber Goal
I think of them in terms of HOW you use them versus length. Swords are typically used in a weapon-on-weapon fights and have a lot of design elements that make them effective for that use. Knives seem more like a utility item that CAN be used as a weapon, if needed.

I think if you watch those documentaries on the history of weapons, many of them were re-purposed farm implements or tools, where as swords seem to have been designed specifically for combat.