A farm tool, wielded with two hands, for cutting grass, grain, or other tall, thin crops. It consists of a long curved metal blade attached to a long wooden handle. The scythe was developed from the sickle, which has a shorter blade and a shorter handle and is worked with one hand. The scythe is a lever getting more power than a sickle due to the longer handle; it was also suggested to me that it has more ease on the worker's back.

The scythe was in use in Europe at least by the time of the Roman Empire. Scythes with a half circle of bent willow attached near the blade to gather the cut stems were in use in Flanders by the end of the 15th century. Scythes with curved instead of straight handles came into use by the end of the 1600's. The scythe was increasingly used in reaping wheat, oats, barley, and other such crops until the invention of mechanical reapers in the 1830's. Since then, it has largely been supplanted for harvesting crops.

The scythe can still be seen today as a symbol of Death (Grim Reaper) who harvests the souls of man rather than wheat or grass. Although Death typicaly touches his prey to kill them, I'm sure if he really wanted to he could use his scythe.

Scythe (s&imac;th), n. [OE. sithe, AS. si[eth]e, sig[eth]e; akin to Icel. sig[eth]r a sickle, LG. segd, seged, seed, seid, OHG. segansa sickle, scythe, G. sense scythe, and to E. saw a cutting instrument. See Saw.] [Written also sithe and sythe.]

1.

An instrument for mowing grass, grain, or the like, by hand, composed of a long, curving blade, with a sharp edge, made fast to a long handle, called a snath, which is bent into a form convenient for use.

The sharp-edged scythe shears up the spiring grass. Dryden.

The scythe of Time mows down. Milton.

2. Antiq.

A scythe-shaped blade attached to ancient war chariots.

 

© Webster 1913.


Scythe (?), v. t.

To cut with a scythe; to cut off as with a scythe; to mow.

[Obs.]

Time had not scythed all that youth begun. Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.

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