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Is there a general word for an assault weapon which cannot be considered firearm? For example knives, knuckles, a piece of metal, etc.

Could 'Stabbing' be the right word for it?

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stabbing would only be appropriate if you were only talking swords, knives, etc. It doesn't include blunt objects. –  PixPrefect Jul 22 at 22:00
    
... boluses, nunchuks, grenades, crossbows, mace sprays ... –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 22 at 22:03
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It might be better to make sure of your facts; Wikipedia has: A firearm is a portable gun, being a barrelled weapon that launches one or more projectiles often driven by the action of an explosive force. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 22 at 22:09
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There are not exhaustive and disjoint subset terms. 'Hurling weapons' (my term) would include bolases, javelins, knives and boomerangs, but 'boomerangs' would also be a member of 'blunt instruments'. 'Pole arms' is made up of pikes, halberds, partisans .... –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 22 at 22:21
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There is a special word: these things are called weapons. –  andy256 Jul 22 at 23:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Cold weapon (also known as white arm) seems to be an appropriate word.

It refers to weapons that do not use any sort of explosive force in their function. It comprises blunt (knuckles, maces), edged (swords, knives) and ranged (bows, crossbows) weaponry.

Here is the relevant excerpt from Wikipedia:

A cold weapon (or white arm) is a weapon that does not involve fire or explosions (such as the act of combustion) as a result from the use of gunpowder or other explosive materials. Ranged weapons that do not include gunpowder or explosive materials and melee weapons are cold weapons. Firearms and explosives (such as grenades, land mines, missiles, bombs, etc.), and other weapons which rely on heat or burning are not cold weapons.

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Great find! I notice, though, that all the citations in the Wikipedia article are from English-language sources in the Middle East. Is there any evidence for this phrase used outside that area (where perhaps it may be a calque from Hebrew or Arabic)? –  Matt Gutting Jul 23 at 13:02
    
I also speak Portuguese quite fluently and the use of its equivalent ("arma branca", lit. white arm) is quite common when referring to things such as switchblades or other edged weapons. A search through Google Ngram Viewer does show that the term "firearm" obfuscates the use of the other terms, maybe due to their proliferation in history. –  Doktoro Reichard Jul 23 at 13:31
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Since none of the article's sources are from natively English-speaking regions, and I've never seen or heard this term used before, I caution against assuming it is idiomatic English just because it's on Wikipedia. –  Useless Jul 24 at 13:28

"Knives, knuckles, a piece of metal, etc." can be considered melee weapons, although my impression is that the term is used more commonly in gaming (where it stands in opposition to ranged weapons) than in discussions of real weaponry.

In any case, there are lots of other kinds of weapons that are neither firearms nor melee weapons, such as bows and arrows, catapults, bombs, et cetera, so if you really want to include all possible non-firearm weapons then Josh61's suggestion may be your best bet.

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They can be referred to as: non-firearm weapons:

Non‐firearm weapon use and injury severity: priorities for prevention.

  • To test the hypothesis that weapon‐related violence (excluding firearms) results in more severe injury relative to the use of body parts (fists, feet and other body parts), and to rank order of injury severity by assault mechanism.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2564418/

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Hand-to-hand weapons? (but that does not include projectile weapons..)

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