Link to the sound in question

Another example of the sound

I'm trying to write a sword fight scene where a swordsman is able to predict his opponent's next swing. And every time he does, he hears this sound. The best I can think of is something along the lines of "screeching metal". But that's not what I'm looking for. It doesn't fit.

  • 3
    Do you mean the sound made by the swords hitting each other? Clash is a common word for that. Just before that, there is a high-pitched noise apparently made by the sword moving through the air - that might be called whining or whistling or singing. Jun 22, 2017 at 3:38
  • Thank you for the reply. The issue I have with "whining" or "whistling" is that it sounds a little too tame for a sword fight. My issue with screeching is that it sounds too high-pitched. Can you maybe use it in a sentence? If I see an example, it might help convince me. Jun 22, 2017 at 4:33
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    Alice's sword whistled through the air as she parried Bob's attack Jun 22, 2017 at 4:37
  • Yeah, it sounds kind of tame. The sound is very distinct, so when I try something like whistling, it doesn't feel right. Does that make sense? Jun 22, 2017 at 4:42
  • 1
    Of interest: reddit discussion of the sound of a sword against it scabbard. Schwing, rasp and hiss sound promising.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 22, 2017 at 5:51

6 Answers 6


What about whipped?

the hum if the blade as it whipped through the air.

Try talking about the blade as a person, that may help?

Think about vibrations, the wobble of the blade, sparks, flashes of light from the sun.


Try to get across the ethereal nature of the sound so as to evoke the almost indescribable yet quite precise idea you want to convey. “So attuned is Hikaru to the deadly arts that he can foresee his opponent’s every move, so fluent in the unspoken and unwritten language of death is the veteran warrior that to him, her every breath speaks volumes, the crunch of the gravel ‘neath her feet a portent of what’s to come, the twitch of her lip, the beating of her heart, the dancing of the moonlight along the cool steel of her bloodthirsty blade sings to him a chorus, the soundless shriek of the wounded air, split by her sharpened steel, silences all of nature and awakens in Hikaru an ingrained instinct passed down through generations from father to son. The clash of their folded steel, to him a symphony an ancestral cry a warrior’s call, and will be the last thing she will ever hear.”


Clang [klang]/ verb (used without object)

  1. to give out a loud, resonant sound, as that produced by a large bell or two heavy pieces of metal striking together

  2. to move with such sounds

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause to resound or ring loudly.


  1. a clanging sound.

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary via TFD


The verb to swish comes to mind, according to Oxford Dictionary Online:

Move with a hissing or rushing sound.

Their example sentence (emphasis is mine):

‘The axe's edge gleamed as it moved up and swept down, swishing audibly through the air.’

The noun version is swish, according to Oxford Dictionary Online:

A hissing or rustling sound.

And one of their example sentences:

‘I nodded, smiled, and a minute later heard the swish of a blade.’

Attribution: "Swish | Definition of Swish in English by Oxford Dictionaries." Oxford Dictionaries | English. Accessed June 02, 2018. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/swish.


Swoosh [swoo sh]/ verb (used without object)

  1. to move with or make a rustling, swirling, or brushing sound.

  2. to pour out swiftly.

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause to make or move with a rustling, swirling, or brushing sound.


  1. a swirling or rustling sound or movement.

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary/Collins English Dictionary via TFD


Clank: loud sound made when metal strikes metal


(There are some acceptable alternatives here as well.)

  • This doesn't describe the motion of a sword through the air at all.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 11, 2019 at 7:16

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