When writing about a battle between a prince with a sword and a dragon, do we use "poke" or "thrust"?

For example, "the prince poked the dragon in the wing with his sword" or "the prince thrust the dragon in the wing with his sword" or "the prince thrust at the dragon's wing with his sword"

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    You do not thrust the dragon. You thrust the sword. Jul 18, 2021 at 6:26
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    You could technically poke a dragon with a sword, but not in the context of a battle. Poke isn't a 'fighting' verb. You'd poke it to see if if was dead (or asleep), which might not end very well for you! Jul 18, 2021 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


"Thrust" is a verb often associated with both sword and knife combat"poke" not so much. Another such word is "stab" (though generally much more with knives than swords).

However, I would usually expect an attack against a dragon's wing to be some kind of slash (that is an arcing movement). I suppose if your hero is on top of the dragon he might stab down then pull rather than slash from the start.

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    To use poke would suggest that he was a very inexpert fighter, who used a sword as though he were poking the fire. 'Lunged at the dragon' would be another possibility. Jul 18, 2021 at 6:59
  • @KateBunting, The sentence "he poked the dragon in the wing with a sword" implies the dragon actually got injured. However, "he thrust at the dragon with a sword" does not imply the dragon was injured. I am not sure if we can say "he thrust the dragon in the wing with a sword"?
    – Tom
    Jul 18, 2021 at 8:01
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    If we already know the prince is armed with a sword, it's not necessary to specify that he used it to wound the dragon. You could say "He made a thrust and pierced the dragon's wing", "He lunged at the dragon and caught it in the wing" or various other permutations. Jul 18, 2021 at 13:24
  • No, @Tom. The direct object of "to thrust" is the implement, not the target. If the hero thrust the dragon, then we're dealing with either an immensely strong hero or a much smaller and lighter dragon than I usually imagine. Verbs that can have a target as a direct object include poke, prod, pierce, stab, strike and the like. Verbs that have an implement as a direct object include thrust, wave, swing, aim, point and so on. You might want to consider your prepositional options: not just thrust at but thrust into and thrust through. Jul 18, 2021 at 17:06

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