There are, however, etymologists, such as Eric Partridge who do believe that the word is derived from "pole".
The poleaxe design arose from the need to breach the plate armor of men at arms during the 14th and 15th centuries. Generally, the form consisted of a wooden haft some long, mounted with a steel head. It seems most schools of combat suggested a haft length comparable to the height of the wielder, but in some cases hafts appear to have been created up to in length.
The design of the head varied greatly with a variety of interchangeable parts and rivets. Generally, the head bore an axe or hammer upon the damaging 'face', with a spike, hammer, or fluke on the reverse. In addition, there was a projection from the top (often square in cross section) built somewhat like a dagger. The head was attached to the squared-off wooden pole by long flat strips of metal, which were riveted in place on either two or four of its sides, called langets. Also, a round hilt-like disc called a rondelle was placed just below the head. They also appear to have borne one or two rings along the poles length as places to prevent hands from slipping. Also of note is that the 'butt end' of the staff, which did not contain the weapon's 'head', bore a spike.
On quick glance, the poleaxe is often confused with the similar looking halberd. However, the 'axe blade' on a poleaxe seems to have been consistently smaller than that of a halberd. Furthermore, many halberds had their heads forged as a single piece, while the poleaxe was always modular in design.
Strictly speaking the flat back of the axe head is called a "poll". The war poleaxes of the Middle Ages have spikes on the back, a poll not being adequate for penetrating armour.
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