Definition of mettle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmedl/


A person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way: the team showed their true mettle in the second half
More example sentences
  • Although Kelly presents herself as uncomplicated and cheerful, every so often the public glimpse her true mettle.
  • It will take sterner tests before we see the true mettle of these Mayo players.
  • It is the closest that the PGA Tour has come to links conditions, the ultimate test of a golfer's mettle and patience.
spirit, fortitude, strength of character, moral fiber, steel, determination, resolve, resolution, backbone, grit, true grit, courage, courageousness, bravery, valor, fearlessness, daring
informal guts, spunk, balls
caliber, character, disposition, nature, temperament, personality, makeup, stamp



be on one's mettle

Be ready or forced to prove one’s ability to cope well with a demanding situation.
Example sentences
  • York were on their mettle from the off and led 22-13 at the five ends stage with two rinks winning and two rinks drawing.
  • As someone who has hitherto needed to reject one thing before moving on to another, Juliet is on her mettle, and she knows it.
  • After the first-half performance it is not a bad point because no matter who you are playing against you have got to be on your mettle for 90 minutes.

put someone on their mettle

(Of a demanding situation) test someone’s ability to face difficulties.
Example sentences
  • This way of thinking was made explicit only when critics such as Vincenzo Borghini were put on their mettle to defend the Baptistery's antiquity.
  • Coventry's opening was brisk and sufficiently to the point to put Tottenham on their mettle.


Mid 16th century: specialized spelling (used for figurative senses) of metal.

  • metal from Middle English:

    The words metal and mettle (early 17th century) were once the same. Both could refer to a physical material and to a quality. In the 17th century the quality came to be particularly ‘vigour, spiritedness’, originally of horses but later also referring to people. By the mid 18th century the form mettle was being restricted to this, and metal to the material. Their ultimate origin is Greek metallon ‘mine, quarry, metal’.

Words that rhyme with mettle

fettle, kettle, metal, nettle, petal, Popocatépetl, settle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: met·tle

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