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thumb|From left to right: two bayonets, a short curved infantry or artillery briquet, a straight infantry officers' sabre, and a carbine.
The "sabre" or "saber" (see spelling differences) traces its origins to the European backsword and usually but not always has a curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger. Although sabres are typically thought of as curved-bladed slashing weapons, those used by the world's heavy cavalry often had straight and even double-edged blades more suitable for thrusting. The length of sabres varied, and most were carried in a scabbard hanging from a shoulder belt known as a baldric or from a waist-mounted sword belt. Exceptions not intended for personal carry include the famed Patton sabre adopted by the U.S. Army in 1913 and always mounted to the cavalryman's saddle.
The word "sabre" is ultimately derived from the Hungarian word "szablya" (lit. "tool to cut with," from "szabni" "to cut." ).