Great is the weapon that cuts on its own.

I recently came across this quote from a game, and as non-native English speaker I have some trouble fully understanding it.

First I thought that it means that a weapon, which is so well made that you don't have to put any wielding skill into it, is great since it cuts on its own.

After giving some more thought I have had a doubt in my first conclusion, and had thought it might mean that great(ness) is the weapon, that cuts on its own. Meaning that if you are great at something it comes as a second nature.

My question is that which one of these is the correct meaning of the quote. Could the quote be interpreted both ways since their meanings are on the opposite side of the spectrum?

  • A fully automatic sword! It could only exist in fantasy. And since it's far from being a standard saying, it's off-topic. Nov 10, 2020 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


It is most likely the weapon can cut by its own weight. It can be said about a good knife. As such little effort is needed to saw through the pesky troll or hapless mundane. If you look at these pithy sayings for over a minute you are sure to overthink them.

  • Of course, it is not magical. It is the weight or momentum of the weapon that is enough without added force from its wielder. Nov 10, 2020 at 11:10

I'm assuming the game you're taking about is Darkest Dungeon. If you pay attention to when the narrator says that line, you'll notice he only says it when a damage over time effect (bleed, blight, etc) kills an enemy. The "weapon" cuts on it's own because you don't have to use an attack that turn to kill the enemy.


My reading is quite different; I read it similarly to

It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good

which means "there is no bad situation that's so bad that it doesn't have some upside". For me,

A weapon would have to be very great indeed to cut on its own

means "there is no weapon that is so great that it can cut on its own: weapons need to be wielded in order to cut".

Or, if you like, "guns don't kill people, people kill people".

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