A sword is a bladed weapon, consisting in its most fundamental design of a blade and a handle. The blade is usually of some metal ground to at least one sharp edge and often has a pointed tip for thrusting. The handle, called the hilt, can be made of many materials, but the material most common is wood covered by leather, fish skin or metal wiring. The parts of a sword are remarkably consistent between cultures. The basic intent and physics of swordsmanship is fairly constant.

This kind of weapon has been in use from the Bronze Age when the construction of long metal blades was possible for the first time. Early swords were made of solid bronze or copper; these were hard, but quite brittle. Not until iron could be forged did the sword truly become an important weapon. Soon, smiths learned that with a proper amount of coal (specifically the carbon in coal) in the iron, another metal (alloy really) could be produced: steel.

Several different ways of swordmaking existed in ancient times. One of the most reputed is pattern welding. Over time new methods were developed all over the world.

In Pre-Columbian South America and Mesoamerica several cultures made use of types of swords without developing metallurgy; for example swords with obsidian "teeth" mounted along the "edges" of a wooden "blade".

Having seen use for about five millennia, swords began to lose their military uses in the late 18th century because of increasing availability and reliability of gunpowder weapons. Swords were still used although increasingly limited to officers and ceremonial uniforms. Cavalry sabre charges still occurred as late as World War II during which Japanese and Pacific Islanders also occasionally used swords.

There are several hundred types of swords. Here is a list of but the most famous:

Several modern sports and martial arts have components based upon older principles of swordfighting. Among these are fencing, kendo, kenjutsu, escrima, aikido and some variants of kung fu.

Many swords in mythology, literature and history are named by their wielders or by the person who makes them.

A tool exists that resembles the sword and it is called a machete (or, in Southern Africa, a panga) and is used to cut through thick vegetation. Indeed, the difference between a machete and a sword is mainly that of utilization, and several types of swords in history resemble the machete in construction, such as for example the scramasax, the dusack, and the falchion.

While a rigid classification is not feasible, the latter is usually referred to as a kind of chopping sword. The scramasax, usually lacking a cross-piece or any kind of guard, is more properly considered a war knife.

For a more comprehensive listing of swords types, see list of swords

Parts of the sword:

The cutting part of a sword is the blade. In single-edged swords, the non-cutting edit is the back. The blade may also have grooves or fullers. The purpose of these fullers is not to act as gutters for blood (as was once thought), but to lighten the blade while allowing it to retain its strength.

The hilt is the handle of a sword, and consists of the guard, the grip, and the pommel. It may also have a tassel or sword knot.

The scabbard is the case that the sword is kept in when not in use.

The ricasso is the short section of blade between the base of the guard and the hilt. The ricasso is not sharpened, which allows a finger to be wrapped around the guard for better control. On some large weapons, such as the German Zweihander, the ricasso was covered with leather and might be gripped in one hand to make the weapon more wieldy in close quarters combat.

The shoulder is the short section of blade between the hilt and the start of the sharpened portion of the blade. The maker's mark is normally to be found on the shoulder.

The tang is the part of the blade extending from the top of the blade through the hilt and the grip. The sword is often held together by a nut screwed onto the tang above the pommel.

The sword is also a symbol of violence, combat, or military intervention. It is used in this sense in Jesus' statement, "Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword." Another example is the old saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword." attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton