from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A ceremonial staff borne or displayed as the symbol of authority of a legislative body.
  • noun A macebearer.
  • noun A heavy medieval war club with a spiked or flanged metal head, used to crush armor.
  • noun A thin fleshy red covering that surrounds the kernel of the nutmeg, dried and used as a spice.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A weapon for striking, consisting of a heavy head, commonly of metal, with a handle or staff, usually of such length as to be conveniently wielded with one hand; by extension, any similar weapon.
  • noun A scepter; a staff of office having somewhat the form of the weapon of war defined above.
  • noun A light stick with a flat head formerly used in playing billiards to push the cue-ball when out of reach for the proper stroke with the cue: superseded by the bridge, or rest for the cue.
  • noun A curriers' mallet with a knobbed face, made by the insertion of pins with egg-shaped heads, used in leather-dressing to soften and supple tanned hides and enable them to absorb the oil, etc.
  • noun A bulrush or cattail.
  • noun A spice consisting of the dried arillode (false aril) or covering of the seed of the nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, which is a fleshy net-like envelop somewhat resembling the husk of a filbert.
  • noun A small gold coin of Atchin in Sumatra, weighing 9 grains, and worth about 26 cents.
  • noun The tenth part of a Chinese tael or ounce: as a money of account it is equal to 58 grains of pure silver. See tael, liang, and candareen.
  • To swindle.
  • noun Swindling; a swindler; a swindling loan-office.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) A kind of spice; the aril which partly covers nutmegs. See nutmeg.
  • proper noun A chemical preparation containing tear gas in a solvent, packaged in the form of a spray, and used to temporarily incapacitate people, such as rioters or criminals, by causing intense eye and skin irritation; also called chemical mace. It is designed to be a non-lethal weapon for defending against violent people.
  • noun A heavy staff or club of metal; a spiked club; -- used as weapon in war before the general use of firearms, especially in the Middle Ages, for breaking metal armor.
  • noun A staff borne by, or carried before, a magistrate as an ensign of his authority.
  • noun An officer who carries a mace as an emblem of authority; a macebearer.
  • noun A knobbed mallet used by curriers in dressing leather to make it supple.
  • noun (Billiards) A rod for playing billiards, having one end suited to resting on the table and pushed with one hand.
  • noun A money of account in China equal to one tenth of a tael; also, a weight of 57.98 grains.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A heavy fighting club.
  • noun A ceremonial form of this weapon.
  • noun A spice obtained from the outer layer of the kernel of the fruit of the nutmeg.
  • noun A common name for some types of tear gas and pepper spray.
  • noun A long baton used by some drum majors to keep time and lead a marching band. If this baton is referred to as a mace, by convention it has a ceremonial often decorative head, which, if of metal, usually is hollow and sometimes intricately worked.
  • verb To spray in defense or attack with mace (pepper spray, or, formerly, tear gas) using a hand-held device.
  • verb informal To spray a similar noxious chemical in defense or attack using an available hand-held device such as an aerosol spray can.
  • verb To hit someone or something with a mace.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun spice made from the dried fleshy covering of the nutmeg seed
  • noun (trademark) a liquid that temporarily disables a person; prepared as an aerosol and sprayed in the face, it irritates the eyes and causes dizziness and immobilization
  • noun an official who carries a mace of office
  • noun a ceremonial staff carried as a symbol of office or authority


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French masse, from Vulgar Latin *mattea.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin macis, alteration of Latin macir, fragrant ailanthus resin, from Greek makir.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English, from Anglo-Norman mace, mache, from Late Latin mattia or *mattea (compare Italian mazza, Spanish maza), from Proto-Indo-European *mat (“hoe, plow”) (compare Latin mateola ("hoe"), Old High German medela ("plow"), Russian мотыга (motýga, "hoe, mattock"), Persian آماج (āmāǰ) ‘plow’, Sanskrit  (matyá, "harrow")).


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  • swindle

    March 13, 2007

  • a weapon

    A development of the club, a mace consists of a strong, heavy wooden, metal-reinforced, or metal shaft, with a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron or steel. The head is normally about the same or slightly thicker than the diameter of the shaft and can be shaped with flanges, or knobs to allow greater penetration of armour. The length of maces can vary considerably. The maces of foot soldiers were usually quite short (two or three feet). The maces of cavalrymen were longer and better designed for blows from horseback. Two-handed maces could be even larger.


    February 17, 2008

  • The stereotypical mace, with spiked balls and chain, is in fact not a mace but a flail.

    August 16, 2008

  • I've never heard a flail referred to as a mace. The stereotypical mace, if there is such a thing, would be pretty much as described below from Wikipedia. I call a mace a mace, me!

    I thought the one with a spiked ball on a chain was a morning star?

    August 16, 2008

  • Morning star is a spiked ball on a shaft, no chain. I am a proud possessor of a flail, but most people refer to it as a mace. A mace, as was described by Wiki, is just really a club with a metal head. It was famously carried by the blind Czech general Jan Zizka.

    August 16, 2008

  • Argh! All those childhood days whiled away happily crunching orcs with my morning star, and it wasn't a morning star at all, but a mere flail!

    August 16, 2008

  • The mace is a state symbol of South Carolina, carried in procession by the Lietenant Governor or his duly appointed minion.

    August 16, 2008

  • The morning star has other interesting names as well; the holy water sprinkler and goedendag, Dutch for 'good morning'. I agree, it is a pity that it has all three good names to itself among the three weapons.

    My college also has a ceremonial mace, carried by the most senior professor at the matriculation ceremony for freshmen.

    August 16, 2008

  • The Morning Star is another name for Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, I believe. It was invoked in litanies in procession, especially on May Day.

    August 16, 2008

  • *wonders how Milosrdenstvi got a flail*

    August 16, 2008

  • A friend gave it to me. I am utterly innocent of the knowledge of how he came about it.

    August 16, 2008

  • Best not to ask, then.

    August 16, 2008

  • Westminster-style parliaments (eg. Britain, Canada, Australia) usually have a ceremonial mace, carried into the House of Parliament by the Usher of the Black Rod on behalf of the Speaker.

    August 16, 2008

  • Is there a difference between a flail and what is called a chain mace?

    August 19, 2008

  • I think a chain mace might have unspiked balls. Probably the terms have some serious blending.

    August 19, 2008

  • Like yarb, I've spent many an afternoon wielding medieval weaponry against fearsome monsters (er... pretending to, at least), and it's a bit of a shock to discover that I've been using these terms wrong all this time.

    Wikipedia doesn't totally clear up the issue for me, but it does include some helpful pictures in all three articles: Flail, Morning Star, and Mace.

    August 19, 2008

  • "In England in 1284, a pound of mace cost 4 s. 7 d., a sum that could also buy three sheep--a whopping outlay for even the better-off peasantry. At much the same time, a pound of nutmeg would buy half a cow."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 136

    December 2, 2016

  • "Alice de Bryene's household account book reveals that in 1418, when prices had already dropped considerably, she purchased 3 pounds of pepper, 2 pounds of ginger, 2 pounds of cinnamon, a pound of cloves and another of mace, spending 56s at a time when a thatcher might earn 4 or 5d a day. These were large amounts, but when we consider that Alice provided for up to fifty householders and visitors each day, catering for almost twenty thousand people in 1418 alone, their use cannot have been heavy-handed."

    --Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (NY: Bloomsbury, 2007), 55

    January 8, 2017