A cutlass is a short, broad saber that was commonly associated with naval forces. As a result, it was the preeminent weapon of pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy.
As a type of saber, the cutlass is a single-edged, curved sword with a hilt typically accompanied by a knuckle-brow. The saber was originally designed for cavalry use and accordingly was not the most practical in the narrow confines of a ship. This led to the development of the cutlass, a derivative with a shortened and broadened blade. Not only was it compact enough for the close quarters underneath the deck, but it was also robust enough to hack through ropes and wood with ease.
The cutlass rose to prominence during the Age of Sail, a period in history spanning the 16th to mid-19th century where naval warfare and international trade were dominated by sailing ships. During this time, cutlasses were heavily favored as sidearms by sailors, and they became one of the chief weapons for boarding action. This was especially true during the Golden Age of Piracy, the height of piracy in the West Indies. Throughout the 18th century, they were commonly sold in shops across the colonies in the Americas, and their prevalence was not limited only to the naval scene.