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Épée, foil or sabre

An épée is a straight-bladed sword that is used in fencing competitions, it is derived from the dueling sword but weighs twenty seven ounces. Touches are scored with the tip of the blade on any part of the body. Épée is a borrowed French word, it means sword. The word épée is properly rendered with accents, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, but is often seen without the accents as in epee. The word épée may also refer to the sport of épée fencing.

A foil is a sword used in fencing competitions, it is derived from the court sword. A foil has a more flexible blade than the épée and weighs less than a pound. Touches are scored with the tip of the blade anywhere except the head, neck, arms or legs. Use of the word foil to mean a sword has been in use since the late 1500s, the origin is unknown. Foil may also refer to the sport of foil fencing.


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A saber is a sword that is used for ceremonial reasons or in fencing. The saber is derived from the a cavalry sword, which is a heavy sword with a curved blade used in battle. A fencing saber is much lighter than a cavalry sword and the blade is much thinner. Touches are scored with the tip of the blade and with the sides of the blade on any part of the body above the waist. The word saber comes from the Hungarian word szablya, which means tool to cut with. The British English spelling of saber is sabre. The words saber and sabre may also refer to the sport of saber or sabre fencing.

Examples

Unfortunately, a stifling loss forced an unsatisfactorily early exit from the individual épée tournament last Saturday, setting the stage for Holmes to bounce back in the team competition. (The Daily Princetonian)

But understanding the differences between the three different weapons — the saber, foil and epee — makes the sport even more interesting. (The Washington Post)

After all, Massialas became the first American medalist in men’s foil since 1960, something his father could not do in either 1984 or 1988, experiences that inspired him to open a training facility in San Francisco where he began working with Alexander at age 7. (USA Today)

The American women’s saber team won a bronze medal on Saturday with a 45-30 victory over Italy, thereby atoning for some disappointing finishes in the individual event. (The New York Times)

Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first US athlete to compete in a hijab, and was cheered with calls of “USA, USA” as she represented her country in the women’s sabre duel. (The Canberra Times)

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