testing your mettle
Originally, mettle was simply a variant spelling of the word metal (which dates to at least the 13th century), and it was used in all of the same senses as its metallic relative. Over time, however, mettle came to be used mainly in figurative senses referring to the quality of someone’s character. It eventually became a distinct English word in its own right, losing its literal sense altogether. Metal remained a term primarily used for those hard, shiny substances such as steel or iron, but it also acquired a figurative use. Today, both words can mean “vigor and strength of spirit or temperament,” but only metal is used of metallic substances.
To save this word, you’ll need to log in.
The jacket is well suited to long days on the bike. There’s plenty of storage, for example, including a zipped valuables pocket for a phone and two open storage pockets for everything else. The fabric is superbly lightweight, simply requiring a short or long-sleeve base layer beneath to maintain optimum warmth, from below 10C to below freezing. Extremely versatile, it’s equally at home on shorter rides and perfect for wearing around town.
Creating clothing that meets the same high standards as our bikes has proved an exciting challenge. For the past 159 years, we Pearsons have been more accustomed to testing conventional ‘metal’, the kind that once went into our ironwork (we’re descended from blacksmiths), and then into our steel bike frames. The variation we used in naming the jacket, a uniquely British measure of perseverance and character, dates back to the 16th century. Shakespeare couldn’t get enough of it, dolloping the phrase liberally into a number of his plays, notably Macbeth. “Bring forth men-children only,” Macbeth pleads with his wife, “for thy undaunted mettle should compose nothing but males.” But then, if you were married to a chronic social-climber and living in a windy old castle, you’d take comfort where you could get it.
These problem scenarios – or `snapshots’ – are from the author’s own experiences as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, superintendent of schools, and as a parent. The snapshots are grouped into chapters that parallel the major problematic areas teachers face every day – from student behavior in and out of the classroom to interactions with administrators and parents, complying with school policy, and other issues not so easily classified. Each snapshot contains an underlying legal, philosophical, or just plain common-sense lesson.
Following each snapshot is a space for the reader to write in his or her own proposed action or solution. The author then explains what actually happened, and what should have happened, and why.
The first known use of a variant of ‘show your mettle’ is found in John Fletcher’s Monsieur Thomas, 1619:
The Free-thinker March 1719: “I like the Lady’s Wit and Mettle.”
To test your mettle is to demonstrate resolve and determination; to be tenacious.
Usually associated with strength or courage, to test your mettle is to demonstrate resolve and determination; to be tenacious. Hardly surprising then that today, it’s a phrase mostly heard in sporting circles, or read in news headlines to describe athletic grit.