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

Synonyms for artillery


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Examples of artillery in a Sentence

The troops were being bombarded by artillery. a captain in the artillery
Recent Examples on the Web Through the night and into the next morning, a separatist unit with 122-millimeter artillery guns fired toward Ukrainian forces in what is known as a shoot-and-scoot maneuver intended to skirt counterattacks by the enemy. New York Times, 15 Nov. 2021 That has included firing shells from armored vehicles and artillery guns, while deploying fighter-bombers that the regime bought for conventional defense purposes. Juan Forero, WSJ, 10 June 2021 The tower was built in weeks in 1942, one of 15 such towers constructed in New Jersey and Delaware to spot German ships and direct artillery fire at them. Gary Stoller, Forbes, 9 Nov. 2021 Russia and China are conducting joint naval exercises, and Russia's defense ministry said that the U.S. warship was in an area closed because of artillery fire. NBC News, 16 Oct. 2021 One cover, designed by a West Point Fellow, features a sort of arabesque of artillery shells. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, 23 Sep. 2021 During the armed conflict, fierce Israeli airstrikes and artillery bombardment killed more than 243 Palestinians in Gaza, including 66 children, according to the health ministry there. Anchorage Daily News, 21 May 2021 The gastrointestinal effects of the three-drug toxic brew were swift and debilitating; one of Eva’s professors likened it to an artillery barrage. Lynda Schuster, Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 Those moves have been matched by India, which has sent tens of thousands of its troops and advanced artillery to the region, the officials said. Rajesh Roy, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021

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.

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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).

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

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Artillery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for artillery



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

More from Merriam-Webster on artillery

Nglish: Translation of artillery for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of artillery for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about artillery


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