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Dagger India Louvre MR13434.jpg
Weapon type: knife
Designations: Dagger, Ponardo, Dague
Use: weapon
Creation time: approx. 120,000 BC Chr
Working time: until now
Distribution: Worldwide
Overall length: from 20 cm, varying
Blade length: up to approx. 40 cm, varying
Blade width: varying
Blade thickness: varying
Handle: Wood, metal, plastic, jade, ivory, rubber, Kfk
Particularities: different designs and shapes
Lists on the subject

The dagger is a short, double-edged stabbing weapon with a mostly symmetrical handle .


The origin of the German word dagger is uncertain, it has only been encountered since the 15th century, initially in Upper Germany. The German dictionary of the Brothers Grimm assumed in 1860 that it was a loan word from Slavonic; Today it is considered certain that the opposite is the case and that the Polish and Czech tulich were borrowed from German. Obvious is a connection with Latin dolo or Greek δόλων (dólōn) "stiletto, shock sword", although this term may have been mixed with native, i.e. Germanic word material. In this regard, for example, Old Norse dalkr , “clasp, fibula ” was cited, but a corresponding Old or Middle High German word has not been passed down. It is also conceivable that the dagger is actually a quasi- macaronic diminutive of the Latin-Greek dolo (n) with a German diminutive suffix such as -che (n) or -ke (n) .


In contrast to the knife , which is primarily designed for cutting, the dagger is designed as a stabbing weapon. With double-edged daggers, the edge angle is 1.69 to 2 times as large as with a single-edged knife of the same blade width and thickness. Because of this, daggers tend to be more blunt than knives; However, it must be taken into account that the cutting edge angle is not the only decisive criterion for the sharpness of a blade.

In terms of the basic shapes, daggers can basically be divided into two shapes: On the one hand, those with a lenticular or diamond-shaped cross-section (with or without a fillet ) and on the other hand, triangular blades, each with, partially or without a hollow grind . The former are still suitable for cutting, the latter are more stable and could be used against lighter types of armor.


Leaf tip of the Solutréen
Allensbach dagger

For the stock see: Stock (prehistory and early history)

The hand axes of the Paleolithic can be seen as the oldest forms of the dagger concept (push point, two cutting edges). Even symmetrically shaped Moustérie tips have retouched edges on both sides. The tips of the leaves of the late Middle Paleolithic can have been flint daggers , cross - handled fist knives, as well as spear or lance tips , which can no longer be recognized due to the complete decomposition of the organic materials. Similar forms of leaf tips existed again in the younger Gravettian , in the southwest European Solutréen as well as in the Mesolithic and Neolithic , whereby the tradition in use is unlikely because of the great cultural breaks. The increasingly asymmetrical shape since the Solutréen makes the shaft as a dagger very likely (top picture).

In the Upper Paleolithic (especially in the Moravian Pavlovian , approx. 25,000 years ago) there were pointed bones in the shape of a dagger (Předmostí site) and daggers made of antlers or ivory . A dagger-like object made of mammoth ivory was found in Pavlov , 56 centimeters long and two centimeters wide .

Flint daggers reappear during the Mesolithic . A dagger with bast wrapping and made from a large flint blade retouched to a point on both sides is available from the Nizhneje Veretije site in northern Russia, with radiocarbon dates of the find layer around 8000 BC. At the Olenij Ostrov site in Karelia , a bone dagger of about the same age with glued-in flint blades was found. There are also decorated bone daggers from the Congemose culture (Denmark) with flint fragments cemented on both sides.

Flint daggers were once again widespread in Central Europe during the late and late Neolithic . Ötzi , who was found as a glacier mummy, carried a barbed dagger with him. A similar find comes from Allensbach on Lake Constance from a site of the Horgen culture (middle picture). In the Neolithic dagger period from 2300-1600 BC. The flint dagger, known as the fishtail dagger , experienced the highest level of perfection in stone processing (lower picture).

There were daggers made of copper as early as the Copper Age , for example in the bell beaker culture in southern Germany. In the early Bronze Age Aunjetitz culture , daggers were cast from one piece of bronze , including a handle. It was only in the course of the Bronze Age that daggers appeared in which handles were made of organic material such as wood, bone and horn and riveted.

Dagger from Luristan, approx. 1000 BC. Chr., Approx. 31 cm long


An Indian dagger from the 18th century

Over time, the dagger developed from a pointed impact instrument to a double-edged device with the additional function of a knife and thus became more versatile. Bronze daggers of the Gamov type date back to the 9th or 8th century BC. And were used by steppe peoples.

The equipment of Roman legionaries from the 2nd century before to the 3rd century after the turn of the century included a dagger ( pugio ) with a broad, approximately 30 cm long blade. According to tradition, Julius Caesar was murdered with 23 dagger stabs.

The dagger appeared as a weapon in the medieval armies in the 12th century. It was the further development of the widely used all-purpose knife from the Middle Ages. At the beginning it was probably intended as a supplement to the knight's sword and should be used as a second weapon if a sword is broken or lost. It was at this time that the armor breaker ( Misericordia ) was invented for piercing chain armor .

Around 1300 a double-edged, heavily profiled blade (Basilard) developed in northern Italy. This dagger then spread over the Alps in southern Germany around 1400. Unlike the sword, the dagger was not subject to any class-specific regulations, which was probably due to its spread. That it also played a special role in the war is made clear by its use by the Confederates in the battle of Dornach in 1499, where the victory over Maximilian's mercenaries was crucially dependent on the use of the dagger. Dagger forms of the late Middle Ages are the ring knob dagger and the disc dagger , which is sometimes also referred to as the disc pommel dagger .

From the 16th century a fighting technique was established in which a parrying dagger was used together with the sword, it was supposed to parry enemy sword blows. In the Middle Ages, the dagger was still pointed with the tip pointing downwards, with this technique it is held with the tip pointing upwards. Also in the 16th century the stiletto was developed as a stabbing weapon with a long, pointed blade.

A dagger was worn as an alternative to the saber by German naval officers since 1901, and by army officers since 1935, until 1945 when wearing a dress uniform . The grave dagger of the First World War was a form of combat knife .

Since a dagger, unlike a sword or spear , can be carried concealed, it was at times not considered a knightly (murder) weapon, as is expressed, for example, in the word creation of the stab in the back legend .


The dagger is also a special character, Unicode character “†” (U + 2020), Windows and Linux input with Alt+ 0134.

See also


  • Wendelin Boeheim: Handbook of the armory. Reprint publ. Leipzig, Holzminden 2000 (reprint of the original edition Seemann, Leipzig 1890), ISBN 978-3-8262-0212-4 .

Web links

Commons : Dolch  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Dagger  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Wendelin Boeheim: Handbook of Armament. see literature
  2. DAGGER, m. . In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm : German Dictionary . Hirzel, Leipzig 1854–1961 ( woerterbuchnetz.de , University of Trier).
  3. Dagger. In: Digital dictionary of the German language .
  4. Marlies Philippa and others: Etymologically Woordenboek van het Nederlands . Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam 2003–2009, sv dolk (wapen) .
  5. On the sharpness of blades . Site of Tremonia Fencing. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  6. NN Gurina: Mesolit Karelij (The Mesolithic Karelia). In: Kolzov (ed.), Mesolit SSSR (The Mesolithic of the USSR). Part of the series: Archaeologia SSSR (Archeology of the USSR), Vol. 2, Plate 10, p. 217, Nauka, Moskva 1989