Beat swords into plowshares and beat swords into ploughshares

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The idioms beat swords into plowshares and beat swords into ploughshares are very old. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the terms beat swords into plowshares and beat swords into ploughshares, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

The expression beat swords into plowshares means to allocate one’s resources into peaceful pursuits rather than warlike pursuits. This may mean literally refashioning a sword into a plowshare, but more often it means reallocating funds from the war department to social concerns. A plowshare is the cutting blade of a plow. The expression beat swords into plowshares comes the Bible, Isaiah 2:4: “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Plowshares is the American spelling of the word.

The expression beat swords into ploughshares is the British spelling of the idiom.


Claiborne had ready a hand plow that he made from a melted-down handgun, a literal following of the Bible’s instruction to “beat swords into plowshares.” (The Longview News-Journal)

“On one hand, it struck me as somewhat innovative — a novel, local response to a national problem — but it’s also a practice with ancient roots, based as it is in the Old Testament call to beat ‘swords into plowshares.’” (The Colorado College News)

After winning independence from Spain in the early 19th century, the nascent republic beat swords into ploughshares and turned the southern Pampas into a regional breadbasket. (The Economist)

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