Beat Swords into Plowshares—The Promise of Peace

Photo of author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

To beat swords into plowshares means to turn something perceived as violent or destructive into something peaceful. It’s a very old idiomatic expression that might not be as familiar as others, but it is a useful one worth learning about. 

Idioms, like beat words into plowshares, are combinations of words that, when used together, convey a meaning distinct from the literal definitions of the individual words. They make plain speech sound much more descriptive and interesting. Learning what they mean helps you master the English language and all its small nuances.

In this guide, I’ll delve into the idiom’s deeper meaning, uncover its origin, and explore its proper usage. Additionally, I’ll examine its relevance in contemporary culture, provide examples, explore variations and synonyms, and offer tips for using it effectively. So keep reading to learn more about the idiom beating swords into plowshares

Beat Swords into Plowshares—The Promise of Peace

What Does the Idiom Beat Swords into Plowshares Mean?

The idiom beat swords into plowshares means symbolically transforming implements of war and conflict, represented by swords, into tools of peace and productivity, symbolized by plowshares.

Collins Dictionary defines the idiom as “a state of conflict between two or more groups of people has ended and a period of peace has begun.” Moreover, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “to change to a peaceful way of life and spend money on peaceful things rather than weapons.”

The expression infers to allocate one’s resources to peaceful pursuits rather than warlike pursuits. This may literally mean refashioning a sword into a plowshare, but more often, it means reallocating funds from the war department to social concerns.

What Is the Difference Between Beat Swords into Plowshares and Beat Plowshares into Swords?

Beat swords into plowshares is the correct form of the idiom. In contrast, beat plowshares into swords would mean the opposite of the original form. The former indicates that weapons of war should be repurposed in a peaceful manner. At the same time, the latter suggests that sharp farming implements should be taken up in violence. 

Variations of the Idiom

The following are variations of the idiom beat swords into plowshares that convey a similar meaning:

  • Turn swords into plowshares
  • Beat swords into ploughshares (British version)
  • Forge plowshares from swords
  • Convert weapons into tools
  • Trade swords for plowshares

How Is Beat Swords into Plowshares Commonly Used in Context?

The idiom beat swords into plowshares resonates with a profound call for peace and transformation. To navigate the nuanced applications of this powerful expression, the following sections provide valuable insights:

What Are the Different Ways to Use Beat Swords into Plowshares?

  • Metaphorical statement: We must beat swords into plowshares and prioritize diplomacy and cooperation over conflict and aggression.
  • Symbolic representation: The sculpture in the park beautifully depicts the idea of beating swords into plowshares, reminding us of the importance of peace.
  • Call for disarmament: Leaders worldwide should unite and work towards beating swords into plowshares by reducing arms and promoting peaceful resolutions.
  • Historical reference: The ancient civilization chose to beat swords into plowshares, transitioning from a warring nation to a prosperous and peaceful society.
  • Artistic expression: The poet eloquently depicts the transformative power of beating swords into plowshares, urging us to seek peace and understanding.
  • Political discourse: The candidate’s speech emphasized the need to beat swords into plowshares, advocating for policies that prioritize diplomacy and peaceful resolutions.

Where Can You Find Examples of Beat Swords into Plowshares?

You can find the idiom’s use in various forms of media, including:

  • Religious texts 
  • Art and sculptures
  • Peace movements and organizations
  • Political speeches and debates
  • Literature and poetry
  • Historical references
  • Peace monuments and memorials

Journalists often use the expression when describing meetings involving politics and country leadership. The following examples are perfect for highlighting this use:

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)

What Are Some Tips for Using Beat Swords into Plowshares?

  • Contextualize the metaphor: Provide a brief explanation or context when using the phrase, especially if your audience is unfamiliar with its origin or meaning. 
  • Use it metaphorically: Remember that the idiom is a metaphorical expression. It symbolizes the transformation of conflict or aggression into peace and productivity. 
  • Consider your audience: Gauge whether your audience is familiar with the phrase. If not, provide a little background or explanation for comprehension.
  • Connect it to your message: Use the expression to support your message or argument. 
  • Avoid clichés: While the idiom is a powerful expression, avoid overusing it or relying on it as a cliché.
  • Provide examples or anecdotes: Offer real-life examples or stories that illustrate the concept of transforming conflict into peace and productivity. 

What Is the Origin of the Idiom Beat Swords into Plowshares?

beat swords into ploughshares vs. beat swords into plowshares Ngram
Beat swords into plowshares and beat swords into ploughshares usage trend.

The expression beat swords into plowshares comes from 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.” 

How Did the Idiom Evolve Over Time?

The expression has been used metaphorically through the centuries to indicate a need to lay down animosity for a more peaceful and productive time. 

Modern use has even symbolically used the plowshare to highlight peace, as seen in The Plowshares Movement of 1980, a pacifist movement working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

What Are Some Related Terms to Beat Swords into Plowshares?

Related terms to beat swords into plowshares can help you create contextual inferences within your communication. Take a look at the following:

Beat Swords into Plowshares—The Promise of Peace 1


  • Turn conflict into cooperation
  • Transform aggression into harmony
  • Shift from war to peace
  • Exchange arms for productivity
  • Trade hostility for collaboration
  • Metamorphose violence into understanding


  • Fuel conflict and aggression
  • Embrace weapons and warfare
  • Promote militarization over peace
  • Prioritize hostility and division
  • Advocate for violence and destruction
  • Sow seeds of discord and animosity

Beat Swords into Plowshares: Test Your Knowledge!

Choose the correct answer.

Let’s Review

In conclusion, the idiom beat swords into plowshares beautifully encapsulates the idea of transforming tools of destruction into ones that promote growth and prosperity. It underlines the globe’s collective desire for peace, urging us to turn our energies away from conflict and toward the nurturing of human potential.

Indeed, idioms enrich language and thought. If you found this intriguing, visit our site for more insightful idiom guides. We explore a plethora of phrases, unearthing their origins, meanings, and usage. Dive in to deepen your understanding, discover fascinating linguistic treasures, and, who knows, you may even add a few to your daily conversations!