ar·​til·​lery | \ är-ˈti-lə-rē How to pronounce artillery (audio) , -ˈtil-rē \
plural artilleries

Definition of artillery

1 : weapons (such as bows, slings, and catapults) for discharging missiles
2a : large bore mounted firearms (such as guns, howitzers, and rockets) : ordnance especially : such ordnance that is capable of long-range indirect fire at a target too distant to be seen
b : a branch of an army armed with artillery
3 : a means of impressing, arguing, persuading, or competing … indicated that the Bureau had not rolled out its heavy artillery for a full-scale investigation.— Herbert Mitgang

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for artillery


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of artillery in a Sentence

The troops were being bombarded by artillery. a captain in the artillery
Recent Examples on the Web After a brief Period the advance commenced and was met with machine gun fire from both flanks and artillery fire from four sides. Jeff Suess, The Enquirer, "'We will have our voice heard': Founded in Cincinnati, Disabled American Veterans honors 100th anniversary," 11 Nov. 2020 He was held captive for two days, released only after the artillery fire had stopped and the Nationalists had surrendered. Washington Post, "Seymour Topping, New York Times correspondent and editor, dies at 98," 8 Nov. 2020 Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of targeting its towns and villages with artillery and missiles, which Armenian authorities have denied. Mallory Moench,, "Hundreds of Bay Area Azerbaijanis gather in S.F. to raise awareness for conflict in Caucasus," 24 Oct. 2020 Azerbaijani troops have made significant advances in several areas around Nagorno-Karabakh and showered its towns with rockets and artillery shells. Fox News, "Nagorno-Karabakh fighting raises threat of deadly escalation," 14 Oct. 2020 Civilian casualties are mounting, with both sides accusing the other of ferrying in foreign fighters and indiscriminately targeting urban areas with missile strikes and artillery fire. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The war in the Caucasus nears a bloody tipping point," 30 Oct. 2020 After years of trading sporadic artillery fire, both sides were poised and ready for more by September. New York Times, "Roots of War: When Armenia Talked Tough, Azerbaijan Took Action," 27 Oct. 2020 Its troops fought Bashar al-Assad’s army for weeks earlier this year, including with artillery and drone strikes, to stall the offensive on Idlib. Selcan Hacaoglu,, "Turkey Is Relocating Military Posts in Syria as Pressure Grows," 23 Oct. 2020 Officials on both sides have described an extremely brutal conflict, in which civilians have been hit by artillery fire and airstrikes, while soldiers have had to hunker down in muddy trenches reminiscent of World War I. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "Turkish-Backed Syrian Fighters Join Armenian-Azeri Conflict," 14 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'artillery.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of artillery

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for artillery

Middle English artilrie, artillerie "instruments of war, weapons for discharging missiles," borrowed from Anglo-French & continental Middle French artelrie, artillerie, from Old French artillier "to equip, provide with instruments of war" (alteration, probably after art "skill, craft, art entry 1" and its derivatives, of atiller, atillier "to order, adjust, put on pieces of armor") + -rie, -erie -ery; atiller, atillier going back to Vulgar Latin *apticulāre, from Latin aptāre "to put into position, bring to bear, make ready" + Vulgar Latin *-iculāre, as in *appariculāre "to prepare, equip, apparel entry 2" — more at adapt

Note: The expected outcome of *apticulāre would be *ateiller rather than atiller, which would appear to derive from *aptīculāre; the discrepancy has been explained as a result of interference from the semantically similar verb atirier, atirer "to equip, prepare" (see attire entry 1).

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about artillery

Time Traveler for artillery

Time Traveler

The first known use of artillery was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for artillery

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Artillery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for artillery


How to pronounce artillery (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of artillery

: large guns that are used to shoot over a great distance
: the part of an army that uses large guns to shoot over a great distance


ar·​til·​lery | \ är-ˈti-lə-rē \

Kids Definition of artillery

1 : large firearms (as cannon or rockets)
2 : a branch of an army armed with artillery

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on artillery

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


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!