Ask Difference

Sabre vs. Scimitar — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 4, 2024
A sabre is a type of curved, single-edged sword originally used by cavalry, known for its slashing ability, while scimitar is specific type of broad, curved sword originating in the Middle East, characterized by its distinct curve and sharp cutting edge.
Sabre vs. Scimitar — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Sabre and Scimitar


Key Differences

Sabres have a diverse history and usage across various cultures, often associated with military and ceremonial roles in European, American, and other cavalry units. Scimitars, however, are deeply rooted in Middle Eastern, Persian, and Ottoman cultures, symbolizing the martial prowess and cultural heritage of these regions.
While both swords are curved, sabres typically feature a moderate curve suitable for both slashing and thrusting. Scimitars, on the other hand, usually display a more pronounced curve, designed primarily for slashing, making them highly effective in mounted combat.
The design of sabres can vary significantly, ranging from the slightly curved European models to the more pronounced curves seen in the Eastern variants. Scimitars, such as the Persian shamshir, often have a continuous curve and a narrower blade, optimized for fast, sweeping cuts.
In terms of use, sabres were widely adopted by cavalry units in the 19th and early 20th centuries, favored for their effectiveness in fast-paced, close-range combat. Scimitars, with their origins in the East, were used in a similar manner but are often more closely associated with specific historical periods and regions, such as the Ottoman Empire and the Persian warriors.

Comparison Chart


Europe, America, and others
Middle East, particularly Persian and Ottoman cultures

Blade Curve

Moderate, versatile for slashing and thrusting
Pronounced, designed primarily for slashing

Historical Usage

Military and ceremonial, widely used by cavalry
Martial prowess, closely associated with Middle Eastern warriors

Design Variability

Wide range, from slight to pronounced curves
Typically features a continuous, pronounced curve

Cultural Significance

Associated with a broad range of cavalry units across cultures
Symbolizes the martial heritage of the Middle East

Compare with Definitions


Adopted in various cultures with modifications.
The Polish sabre, known as the szabla, features a distinct design suited to their fighting style.


A broad, curved sword originating from the Middle East.
The warrior’s scimitar gleamed under the desert sun.


Features a single-edged blade, often with a protective guard.
The sabre’s guard offered protection to the wielder's hand during duels.


Features in cultural and historical lore.
Folk tales often depict heroes armed with scimitars battling evil forces.


Used in modern fencing to refer to a specific discipline.
She won the gold medal in sabre at the fencing championship.


Known for its sharp edge and distinct curve.
The scimitar’s design made it ideal for mounted warfare.


A type of sword with a curved blade, used historically by cavalry.
The officer carried a ceremonial sabre at the parade.


Symbolizes speed and precision in battle.
Legends tell of heroes wielding scimitars with unmatched speed.


A sabre (sometimes spelt saber in American English) is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the early modern and Napoleonic periods. Originally associated with Central European cavalry such as the hussars, the sabre became widespread in Western Europe in the Thirty Years' War.


Often associated with Persian and Ottoman warriors.
The Ottoman janissaries were feared for their proficiency with the scimitar.


Variant of saber.


A scimitar ( or ) is a backsword or sabre with a curved blade typically associated with Middle Eastern, South Asian, or North African cultures.


A light sword, sharp along the front edge, part of the back edge, and at the point.


A curved Asian sword with the edge on the convex side.


A modern fencing sword modeled after the sabre.


A sword of Persian origin that features a curved blade.


See Saber.


A long-handled billhook.


A fencing sword with a v-shaped blade and a slightly curved handle


(transitive) To strike or slice with, or as if with, a scimitar.


A stout sword with a curved blade and thick back


A curved oriental saber; the edge is on the convex side of the blade


Cut or injure with a saber

Common Curiosities

Can sabres and scimitars be used for thrusting?

Sabres, with their moderate curve, can be used for thrusting and slashing. Scimitars, due to their pronounced curve, are primarily designed for slashing.

Were scimitars used exclusively in the Middle East?

While scimitars have their origins in the Middle East, similar designs were adopted in various regions, influenced by trade and conquest.

Are there fencing styles specific to sabres or scimitars?

Modern fencing includes a discipline for the sabre. While there's no competitive fencing style for scimitars, historical martial arts practices have sought to revive and preserve traditional techniques associated with both protectors.

Has the design of sabres and scimitars evolved over time?

Yes, both have evolved to suit the needs of the warriors using them, influenced by changes in armor, warfare tactics, and aesthetic preferences.

Which is better for combat, a sabre or a scimitar?

It depends on the context and style of combat. Sabres are versatile for various fighting techniques, while scimitars are excellent for swift slashing attacks, particularly from horseback.

What is the historical significance of sabres and scimitars?

Both have rich cultural and military histories. Sabres symbolize the valor of cavalry units, while scimitars represent the martial heritage of the Middle East.

Are replicas of historical sabres and scimitars available for collectors?

Yes, replicas are widely available for collectors and enthusiasts, ranging from decorative pieces to battle-ready protector.

How do the handles of sabres and scimitars differ?

Handles can vary widely, but sabres often have a hilt with a guard for protection, while scimitar hilts are designed to complement the blade's curve, focusing on grip and balance for slashing.

Do modern armed forces still use sabres?

Today, sabres are primarily used for ceremonial purposes rather than combat by military units around the world.

What kind of maintenance do sabres and scimitars require?

Like all bladed weapons, they require regular cleaning, oiling, and sharpening to preserve their condition and effectiveness.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger

Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms