ar·​til·​lery är-ˈti-lə-rē How to pronounce artillery (audio)
plural artilleries
: weapons (such as bows, slings, and catapults) for discharging missiles
: 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
: a branch of an army armed with artillery
: 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

Example Sentences

The troops were being bombarded by artillery. a captain in the artillery
Recent Examples on the Web That’s why both sides are relying increasingly on low-tech alternatives–dumb artillery shells instead of pricey missiles, and drones instead of fighter aircraft. IEEE Spectrum, 17 May 2023 There are no artillery shells incoming right now, but the shredded trees around us are a silent warning this rare moment of calm on this frontline in Ukraine may not hold. Nic Robertson, CNN, 13 May 2023 Composed of two major areas, the northern Aberdeen area and southern Edgewood area (previously known as Edgewood Arsenal), APG was originally used as a center to test military equipment and artillery. Baltimore Sun, 12 May 2023 The Discord leaks also include classified documents indicating the United States eavesdropped on South Korean officials’ private deliberations, including their consideration of a U.S. request that Seoul send artillery ammunition to Ukraine. Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, 11 May 2023 Supplies of artillery and air-defense ordnance are dwindling. Michael Schwirtz David Guttenfelder, New York Times, 29 Apr. 2023 According to city filings, General Dynamics intends to process raw materials into artillery casings that will be shipped to another facility for assembly into munitions. Steve Brown, Dallas News, 25 Apr. 2023 Watch on This Switchblade-600 could therefore be used to take out tanks, artillery, and air defense systems well behind the frontline. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 22 Apr. 2023 With both sides expected to intensify their offensive in the spring, Kyiv has redoubled calls for NATO to send weapons and weapons systems, including warplanes, artillery and armored vehicles. Andy Eckardt, NBC News, 21 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'artillery.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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).

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near artillery

Cite this Entry

“Artillery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


ar·​til·​lery är-ˈtil-(ə-)rē How to pronounce artillery (audio)
plural artilleries
: large firearms (as cannon or rockets)
: a branch of an army armed with artillery

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