By the same token, did ye ever hear o' one Torrigiano--Torrisany we called him?' 'I can't say I ever did. Was he a Frenchy like?' 'No, a hectoring, hard-mouthed, long-sworded Italian builder, as vain as a peacock and as strong as a bull, but, mark you, a master workman.

This is from "Rewards and Fairies" !The Wrong Thing" by Kipling.


I do not understand what "long-sworded" means. I have searched in dictionaries but could not find any.

I am glad if someone kindly teach me.

  • Possibly en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sworded – Em. Aug 24 '16 at 2:23
  • 1
    References in books from the 1880's seem to tell us that it usually meant only armed with a long-sword. – P. E. Dant Aug 24 '16 at 2:31
  • Hectoring seems to me much more interesting here than long-sworded. – P. E. Dant Aug 24 '16 at 5:58
  • Hmmm - isn't sword sometimes a metaphor for the male sexual organ? That is what came to my mind when I read the above. Maybe it tells more about me than about Kipling though.... :-) – froderik Aug 24 '16 at 8:16
  • @froderick You may not be familiar with Kipling. His were "family" books. He was averse to such rerferences, and there aren't any contemporary usages with that connotation - that I could find, anyway. – P. E. Dant Aug 24 '16 at 15:48

The Italian builder is described as being "rough" (hard-mouthed) and very strong which would be typical of someone using a



The long-sword takes its name from having a long handle not a long blade.
It is intended for two handed use in combat.


The author may have meant the Italian builder was carrying a long-sword, but he might also have meant as a metaphor, that the Italian builder was strong and burly and combative in nature, as one carrying a long-sword would be.

The European Long-Sword, should not be confused with the Japanese Samurai Long-Sword which does get its name from having a long blade. The katana was always intended to be two-handed.


  • It's very difficult from the usages I could find to ascribe any metaphorical usage to the term. One reference indicated that it might connote sharp practices in business, but I couldn't find any in which there was reference to physical attributes. – P. E. Dant Aug 24 '16 at 6:04
  • Thank so much for your detailed information. I have got the meaning so well now!! – Hiroshi Inagaki Aug 24 '16 at 7:27
  • @P.E.Dant It would say it's similar to: "Well don't ask me to go downtown, I won't come back alive. Not only is that mother big but he packs a .45" there are certain implicit meanings in referencing the weapon a person is associated with. – Peter Aug 24 '16 at 14:45
  • If you're trying to force a reference to male organs, it's just not there. Kipling, for one thing, would never have used a term with that connotation. – P. E. Dant Aug 24 '16 at 15:40
  • @P.E.Dant There is no reference to male organs, not sure where you're getting that from, I believe that is only your interpretation. A Colt .45 is a powerful gun, used by people who "mean business". "packs a .45" = "carries a powerful gun" – Peter Aug 24 '16 at 15:44

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