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Spear vs. Polearm: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 26, 2023
A spear is a long, pointed weapon typically used for thrusting or throwing, while a polearm is a broader category of weapons mounted on a long shaft, including spears, halberds, and glaives.
Spear vs. Polearm

Key Differences

A spear is a simple weapon with a pointed tip, often made of metal or stone, mounted on a long shaft. It is primarily designed for thrusting or throwing. Polearms, however, encompass a wider range of weapons, all featuring a blade or head affixed to a long pole, including spears but also extending to weapons like halberds and pikes.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
Spears have been used since prehistoric times for hunting and warfare, prized for their simplicity and effectiveness. Polearms, by contrast, evolved in the medieval era, offering more specialized forms and functions, catering to different combat scenarios, such as breaking through heavy armor.
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Dec 26, 2023
The design of a spear is focused on a single sharp point, making it effective for piercing. Polearms, on the other hand, may have various designs such as axes, hooks, or blades on their heads, making them versatile for slashing, hooking, and thrusting.
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Dec 26, 2023
Spears are often lighter and more agile, suitable for quick thrusts and even throwing. Polearms are typically heavier and require training to use effectively, often utilized in formations by infantry in medieval battles.
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Dec 26, 2023
In modern times, the spear is mainly found in sporting events, like the javelin throw. Polearms are mostly seen in historical reenactments or as ceremonial items, their diverse forms reflecting their historical military significance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

A weapon with a pointed tip on a long shaft.
A category of weapons with various heads on long shafts.
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Dec 26, 2023

Usage

Primarily for thrusting or throwing.
Used for thrusting, slashing, and hooking.
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Historical Origin

Since prehistoric times.
Medieval era.
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Design Focus

Single sharp point.
Varied designs including axes, hooks, blades.
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Dec 26, 2023

Typical Weight

Lighter and more agile.
Heavier, requiring more skill to wield.
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Dec 26, 2023
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Spear and Polearm Definitions

Spear

A weapon designed for thrusting.
In combat, the spear proved effective for quick strikes.
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Dec 26, 2023

Polearm

A class of weapons combining pole and blade.
The medieval knight trained with various polearms.
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Dec 26, 2023

Spear

An athletic equipment in sports like javelin throw.
She excelled in throwing the spear at track and field events.
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Dec 26, 2023

Polearm

A medieval weapon used by foot soldiers.
Polearms were essential in breaking enemy lines in medieval battles.
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Dec 26, 2023

Spear

A weapon consisting of a long shaft with a sharply pointed end.
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Oct 19, 2023
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Polearm

A pole-mounted weapon with diverse head designs.
The museum's collection included polearms with intricate designs.
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Dec 26, 2023

Spear

A shaft with a sharp point and barbs for spearing fish.
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Oct 19, 2023

Polearm

A versatile weapon for thrusting and slashing.
The halberd, a type of polearm, was effective against both infantry and cavalry.
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Dec 26, 2023

Spear

A soldier armed with a spear.
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Oct 19, 2023

Polearm

A weapon used in historical reenactments.
In the reenactment, he wielded a polearm with great skill.
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Spear

A slender stalk, as of asparagus.
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Oct 19, 2023

Polearm

A close-quarter combat weapon with the main fighting part of the weapon placed on the end of a long shaft, typically of wood.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

To pierce with a spear or other sharp object.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

To catch with a thrust of the arm
Spear a grounder.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

(Football) To block (an opponent) by ramming with the helmet, in violation of the rules.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

(Sports) To jab (an opponent) with the blade of a hockey stick, in violation of the rules.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

To stab at something with a spear or other sharp object.
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Spear

To sprout like a spear.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A long stick with a sharp tip used as a weapon for throwing or thrusting, or anything used to make a thrusting motion.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A soldier armed with such a weapon; a spearman.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A lance with barbed prongs, used by fishermen to retrieve fish.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

(ice hockey) An illegal maneuver using the end of a hockey stick to strike into another hockey player.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

(wrestling) In professional wrestling, a running tackle in which the wrestler's shoulder is driven into the opponent's midsection.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A shoot, as of grass; a spire.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

The feather of a horse.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

The rod to which the bucket, or plunger, of a pump is attached; a pump rod.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A long, thin strip from a vegetable.
Asparagus and broccoli spears
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

(botany) The sprout of a plant, stalk
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Spear

(obsolete) A church spire.
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Spear

(transitive) To pierce with a spear.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

To penetrate or strike with, or as if with, any long narrow object; to make a thrusting motion that catches an object on the tip of a long device.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

(gridiron football) To tackle an opponent by ramming into them with one's helmet.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

(intransitive) To shoot into a long stem, as some plants do.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

To ignore as a social snub.
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Spear

Male.
A spear counterpart
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Spear

Pertaining to male family members.
The spear side of the family
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A long, pointed weapon, used in war and hunting, by thrusting or throwing; a weapon with a long shaft and a sharp head or blade; a lance.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

Fig.: A spearman.
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Spear

A sharp-pointed instrument with barbs, used for stabbing fish and other animals.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A shoot, as of grass; a spire.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Spear

The rod to which the bucket, or plunger, of a pump is attached; a pump rod.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Spear

To pierce with a spear; to kill with a spear; as, to spear a fish.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Spear

To shoot into a long stem, as some plants. See Spire.
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A long pointed rod used as a weapon
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Spear

An implement with a shaft and barbed point used for catching fish
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

Pierce with a spear;
Spear fish
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Spear

Thrust up like a spear;
The branch speared up into the air
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Oct 19, 2023

Spear

A long shafted weapon with a pointed tip.
The warrior skillfully threw the spear at the target.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Spear

A tool used historically in hunting and warfare.
Ancient hunters used spears to take down large game.
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Dec 26, 2023

Spear

A pole weapon with a sharp end, often used in historical contexts.
The museum displayed spears from various ancient civilizations.
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Dec 26, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is the primary use of a spear?

A spear is primarily used for thrusting or throwing.
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Dec 26, 2023

Are polearms still used today?

Polearms are primarily used today for ceremonial purposes or in historical reenactments.
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Dec 26, 2023

Is the spear a simple weapon?

Yes, the spear is considered one of the simplest and oldest weapons.
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Dec 26, 2023

Were polearms used in formations?

Yes, polearms were often used in military formations in medieval warfare.
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Dec 26, 2023

Can spears be used for defense?

Yes, spears can be effective defensive weapons, especially against charges.
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Dec 26, 2023

What distinguishes a polearm from other weapons?

A polearm is characterized by its combination of a long shaft with various types of heads or blades.
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Dec 26, 2023

How long is a typical spear?

The length of spears can vary, but they are typically long enough to be used effectively at a distance.
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Dec 26, 2023

Were spears used in ancient Rome?

Yes, spears were commonly used by Roman soldiers.
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What materials are spears made from?

Historically, spears were made from wood and metal, with stone tips in earlier times.
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Dec 26, 2023

Can a spear be thrown?

Yes, spears can be designed for both thrusting and throwing.
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Dec 26, 2023

What are some examples of polearms?

Examples of polearms include the halberd, pike, and glaive.
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Dec 26, 2023

How heavy is a polearm?

Polearms vary in weight, but they are generally heavier than spears.
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Dec 26, 2023

Did knights use polearms?

Yes, knights and other medieval soldiers used polearms in battle.
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Dec 26, 2023

What is the historical significance of polearms?

Polearms played a significant role in medieval warfare and tactics.
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Did ancient Egyptians use spears?

Yes, spears were a common weapon in ancient Egypt.
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Dec 26, 2023

Were polearms used in naval warfare?

Yes, polearms were sometimes used in boarding actions during naval battles.
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Dec 26, 2023

Are polearms effective against cavalry?

Certain types of polearms, like the pike, were effective against cavalry.
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Dec 26, 2023

Do modern armies use polearms?

No, polearms are no longer used in modern warfare.
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Dec 26, 2023

What is the advantage of a spear in hunting?

The spear allows hunters to attack from a distance, providing safety and leverage.
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Dec 26, 2023

Is spear-throwing an Olympic sport?

Yes, javelin throw, a form of spear-throwing, is an Olympic sport.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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