The human language is one that is always evolving. Words that once might have been at the height of popularity will fall out of fashion, or pick up a new meaning, or others that haven’t been used in years will suddenly come back around.
One word that has people wondering about its definition today is that of smite, an Old English word.
This is what you need to know.
What does smite mean?
The word smite is a verb, with the past tense version being smote, the past participle smitten and present participle smiting.
Merriam-Webster defines the word smite as: “to strike sharply or heavily especially with the hand or an implement held in the hand”.
Here are some example sentences using the word smite and its various forms:
- The man vowed to smite his enemies
- The family was smote by the plague
- Villages were smitten by floods
- The blacksmith was smiting the iron
The word smitten does have its own separate definition as well, one that’s more up to date than the old fashioned one that is associated with smite.
The alternative definition of smitten, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means “deeply affected with or struck by strong feelings or attraction, affection, or infatuation”.
So you’re more likely to see smitten used in reference to someone talking about feelings, for example: The man was entirely smitten by his new wife.
Where am I most likely to see the word?
Smite is a fairly old fashioned word – you’re most likely to come across the word in its intended usage in classic literature or in the bible.
According to Knowing Jesus, there are over 200 uses of the word smite in the bible.
- “And Jehovah said to him, Therefore, whoever slayeth Cain, it shall be revenged sevenfold. And Jehovah set a mark on Cain, lest any finding him should smite him.” Gen 4:15
- “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” Gen 32:11
- “And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs.” Exo 8:2
- “For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.” Exo 9:15
- “And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.” Num 35:16
In geographical terms, smite could refer to Smite River in New Zealand or River Smite in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, England.
Smite is also the name of an online multiplayer game released in 2014 in which players control a god, goddess or some other mythical figure and take part in team-based fights, using their skills, abilities and tactics against other players.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism