Film Term:

A type of lens mount commonly used with heavier lenses, such as zoom lenses. In contrast to screw-mount lenses, bayonet lenses are attached to the camera with a locking mechanism. Bayonet lenses can typically be changed much faster than screw-mount lenses.

Glossary of Film Terms -
reprinted with permission

an edge and point weapon, in the form of a short sword or spike or knife, designed to be attached to the muzzle of a rifle. The earliest plug bayonets employed a wooden dowel that was inserted into a musket bore. This type of mounting, of course is not optimal.

Later, in the eighteenth century other types of bayonet were developed that connected with the gun either with rings or with a socket-and-stud system. The latter type was due to S├ębastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the prince of military engineers.

As the rate of fire of military firearms increased, the usefulness of the bayonet in combat decreased, relegating it to a role of last ditch weapon for desperate situations. In fact, in modern military weapons the bayonet turned into a large knife (often with a serrated edge), a handgrip and some means of affixing it to the barrel - or even an entrenchment tool. There is also a debate in military circles about the usefulness of bayonet drill: some people believe that in modern wars the type of direct, man-to-man engagament where bayonets are useful will be more and more unlikely.

Bayonets were first made in the French town of Bayonne, from which they draw their name. They are basically knives, swords or spikes that attach to the front of rifles.

Early rifles fired very slowly, as they only held one shot, and they had to be loaded from the muzzle. In the days before bayonets, riflemen had to be protected by pikemen, wielding long poles that horses won't charge at. This prevented formations of riflemen from being attacked by cavalry.

The first bayonets were wooden plugs that could be placed in the barrel of a rifle. If cavalry charged, they could be fixed onto barrels, allowing riflemen to double as pikemen. This eliminated the need for pikemen, halving manpower requirements, and hence doubling the mean firepower of infantry units.

The bayonet was keenly adopted by the British, who used it around 1745 against the Scottish uprising. It was quickly enhanced from the 'plug' bayonet, which prevented firing, to the 'socket' bayonet, which allowed it. Fighting the Scottish, however, it proved ineffective against the highland charge.

The British developed drills and techniques for using bayonets, partly based on the highland charge. They would advance towards the enemy quickly, and fire from a number of meters away. This would create a big cloud of smoke, as well as killing enemy soldiers. The British infantry would then charge out of the cloud of smoke, towards the enemy. This was designed to be particularly frightening, and was used to great effect in the napoleonic wars, and in maintaining British colonies abroad.

In the First World War, British generals attempted to use bayonet charges, such as in the battle of the Somme. They were brutally cut down by enemy machine guns.

In modern times, the bayonet isn't put to all that much use in battle. It is still popular as a training weapon, as it encourages courage and aggression; bayonet practice is used as 'battle inoculation'. It was also used briefly in the Falklands war, mainly as a psychological weapon.

In modern times, bayonets are not often used in battle. They are, however, cheap and sometimes useful, and they remain a staple of most soldiers' inventories.

Since the invention of clip-fed firearms, bayonets have not been very valuable weapons. When reloading is the matter of flicking a lever (or of doing nothing at all for automatic weapons), adding a knife to the end of the gun does little good. It is easier, more effective, and vastly safer to fire another round than to attack with a bayonet. Bayonets are widely considered obsolete, and modern armies tend to phase them out- with good reason.

The only problem caused by this is that soldiers do still occasionally find themselves caught in the midst of reloading their weapons in close combat- the very situation bayonets were invented to cope with over 300 years ago. Soldiers without a bayonet are at a grave disadvantage in the narrow subset of situations where a bayonet is actually useful.

This problem is not likely to go away. While high-tech armies such as the US military may be moving away from man-to-man close fighting, their enemies have good reasons to move towards it. Low-tech forces have no chance of defeating a modern army unless they can overcome its overwhelming advantage in stand-off firepower. The easiest way to do this is to engage in extremely close combat, so close that the enemy cannot safely use stand-off bombardment. The very fact that the US military and other, similarly equipped forces are so good at bombarding an enemy in the open field forces those enemies to go to ground in cities and to rely on close-range ambush tactics, creating situations where a bayonet can occasionally be both effective and necessary.

Bay"o*net (?), n. [F. bayonnette, baionnette; -- so called, it is said, because the first bayonets were made at Bayonne.]

1. Mil.

A pointed instrument of the dagger kind fitted on the muzzle of a musket or rifle, so as to give the soldier increased means of offense and defense.

⇒ Originally, the bayonet was made with a handle, which required to be fitted into the bore of the musket after the soldier had fired.

2. Mach.

A pin which plays in and out of holes made to receive it, and which thus serves to engage or disengage parts of the machinery.

Bayonet clutch. See Clutch. -- Bayonet joint, a form of coupling similar to that by which a bayonet is fixed on the barrel of a musket.



© Webster 1913.

Bay"o*net, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Bayoneted; p. pr. & vb. n. Bayoneting.]


To stab with a bayonet.


To compel or drive by the bayonet.

To bayonet us into submission. Burke.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.