A sickle is a hand-held agricultural tool with a curved blade typically used for harvesting grain crop or cutting grass for hay. The inside of the curve is sharp, so that the user can draw or swing the blade against the base of the crop, catching it in the curve and slicing it at the same time. The material to be cut may be held in a bunch in the other hand (for example when reaping), held in place by a wooden stick, or left free. When held in a bunch, the sickle action is towards the user (left to right for a right-handed user), but when used free the sickle is usually swung the opposite way. Different types may be referred to as a "grasshook", "swap hook", "rip-hook", "reaping hook", brishing hook or "bagging hook".

The blade of a sickle is often cranked to one side, to make it easier to keep the blade closer to the ground; this makes it right- or (more rarely) left-handed. Sickles used for reaping are usually serrated.

The sickle was largely superseded by the scythe, which is more comfortable and efficient to use for many purposes, but it continues in use in many parts of the world, and for certain uses where a scythe is not convenient. The most noticeable difference between a sickle and a scythe is the length of the handle – a sickle is a one-handed tool with a short handle, used while bending down to the ground, while a scythe is a two-handed tool, used standing up, with a long, often curved haft, and a much longer blade.

A blade which is used regularly to cut the silica-rich stems of cereal crops acquires a characteristic sickle-gloss, or wear pattern. When this pattern appears on ancient stone tools, it can indicate early use or development of agricultural use.

In Greek myths, the sickle was used as a weapon by Cronus and Perseus.

Additional uses

* The sickle is used as part of the well known symbol of the hammer and sickle, which is the symbol of Communism or Revolutionary Socialism. The sickle represents the agricultural working class or peasantry in this symbol.
* Sickle is a fictional unit of money in the Harry Potter series.
* SS-25 Sickle is the NATO reporting name for the RT-2PM Topol intercontinental ballistic missile.
*Tacitus reports that golden sickles were used in Druidic rituals.

See also

*Hammer and sickle
*Sickle probe
*Sickle-cell disease

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sickle — Sic kle, n. [OE. sikel, AS. sicol; akin to D. sikkel, G. sichel, OHG. sihhila, Dan. segel, segl, L. secula, fr. secare to cut; or perhaps from L. secula. See {Saw} a cutting instrument.] 1. A reaping instrument consisting of a steel blade curved… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sickle — (n.) O.E. sicol, probably a West Germanic borrowing (Cf. M.Du. sickele, O.H.G. sihhila, Du. sikkel, Ger. Sichel) from V.L. *sicila, from L. secula sickle (Cf. It. segolo hatchet ), from PIE root *sek cut (see SECTION (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • sickle — ► NOUN ▪ a short handled farming tool with a semicircular blade, used for cutting corn, lopping, or trimming. ORIGIN Latin secula, from secare to cut …   English terms dictionary

  • sickle — [sik′əl] n. [ME sikel < OE sicol (akin to Ger sichel) < early WGmc borrowing < L secula < secare, to cut: see SAW1] a tool consisting of a crescent shaped blade with a short handle: used for cutting down tall grasses and weeds …   English World dictionary

  • sickle — I. noun Etymology: Middle English sikel, from Old English sicol, from Latin secula sickle, from secare to cut more at saw Date: before 12th century 1. an agricultural implement consisting of a curved metal blade with a short handle fitted on a… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sickle — sick·le sik əl n a dental scaler with a curved 3 sided point sickle adj of, relating to, or characteristic of sickle cell anemia or sickle cell trait <sickle hemoglobin> sickle vb, sick·led; sick·ling sik (ə )liŋ vt to change (a red blood… …   Medical dictionary

  • sickle — 1. noun [sɪkl̩/ an implement, having a semicircular blade and short handle, used for cutting long grass and cereal crops Syn …   Wiktionary

  • sickle — n. 1 a short handled farming tool with a semicircular blade, used for cutting corn, lopping, or trimming. 2 anything sickle shaped, esp. the crescent moon. Phrases and idioms: sickle bill any of various curlews with a sickle shaped bill. sickle… …   Useful english dictionary

  • sickle — UK [ˈsɪk(ə)l] / US noun [countable] Word forms sickle : singular sickle plural sickles 1) a tool for cutting down grass and tall plants, consisting of a long curved blade and a handle 2) literary a curved shape • See: hammer and sickle …   English dictionary

  • Sickle — RT 2PM Topol auf Basis eines MAZ 7917 Die RS 12M Topol (NATO Codename SS 25 Sickle, GRAU Index 15Sch58) ist eine fahrzeuggebundene, ballistische Interkontinentalrakete (ICBM) aus sowjetischer Produktion. Der Systemindex der Streitkräfte lautet RT …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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