noun \bə-ˈlis-tə\
plural bal·lis·tae\-ˌtē\

Definition of BALLISTA

:  an ancient military engine often in the form of a crossbow for hurling large missiles

Origin of BALLISTA

Latin, from Greek *ballistēs, from ballein to throw — more at devil
First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with BALLISTA


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Ancient missile launcher designed to hurl long arrows or heavy balls. The Greek version was basically a huge crossbow fastened to a mount. The Roman ballista was powered by torsion derived from two thick skeins of twisted cords through which were thrust two separate arms joined at their ends by the cord that propelled the missile. The largest could accurately hurl 60-lb (27-kg) weights up to about 500 yards (450 m).


Next Word in the Dictionary: ballister
Previous Word in the Dictionary: Balling scale
All Words Near: ballista

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up ballista? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).