medieval weapon (a broad blade with sharp edges, ending in a point and mounted on a long handle), late 15c., from French hallebarde (earlier alabarde, 15c.), from Middle High German halmbarte "broad-axe with handle," from halm "handle" (see helm) + barte "hatchet," from Proto-Germanic *bardoz "beard" (see beard (n.)), also "hatchet, broadax" ("because the actual axe looks like a beard stuck to the wooden handle" - Boutkan). An alternative etymology [Kluge, Darmesteter] traces first element to helm "helmet," making the weapon an axe for smashing helmets. In 15c.-16c. especially the arm of foot-soldiers.
updated on December 08, 2020