noun \ˈpis-təl\

: a small gun made to be aimed and fired with one hand

: a person who has a lot of energy and spirit

Full Definition of PISTOL

:  a handgun whose chamber is integral with the barrel; broadly :  handgun
:  a notably sharp, spirited, or energetic person
pistol transitive verb

Examples of PISTOL

  1. <a real pistol, she dances rings around the other performers>

Origin of PISTOL

Middle French pistole, from German, from Middle High German pischulle, from Czech píšt'ala, literally, pipe, fife; akin to Czech pištět to squeak
First Known Use: circa 1570

Rhymes with PISTOL


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Parts of a semiautomatic pistol.—© Merriam-Webster Inc.

Small firearm designed to be operated with one hand. The name may derive from the city of Pistoia, Italy, where handguns were made as early as the 15th century. It was originally a cavalry weapon. However, because the firepower of pistols must be kept low in order to reduce them to manageable weight, and because only skilled soldiers can shoot them accurately beyond 10 yards, they have never been satisfactory military weapons. In legal use, pistols are most frequently carried by police and other security personnel and serve mainly as a defensive weapon of last resort. Their compact size, low cost, and ease of operation make them a common weapon in violent crime, so that pistols are a common object of laws regulating the ownership of firearms. The two classes of pistol are revolvers and automatics. Automatics have a mechanism, actuated by the energy of recoil, that feeds cartridges from a magazine in the grip.


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