ballista

noun
bal·​lis·​ta | \ bə-ˈli-stə How to pronounce ballista (audio) \
plural ballistae\ bə-​ˈli-​ˌstē How to pronounce ballista (audio) \

Definition of ballista

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

Examples of ballista in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This kind of ballista dates back to 399 BCE, when King Dionysius of Syracuse besieged a walled town called Motya located on the island of Sicily. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, 6 May 2019 In human history, this old-school Godzilla-sized crossbow goes by a different name—a ballista. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, 6 May 2019 Even when her dragon yaws, pitches, and rolls after being hit by an arrow shot from Qyburn's ballista, the dainty dragon queen hangs tough in the face of the forces of physics trying to pry her loose. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, 15 Apr. 2019 Nixey delivers this ballista-bolt of a book with her eyes wide open and in an attempt to bring light as well as heat to the sad story of intellectual monoculture and religious intolerance. Bettany Hughes, New York Times, 8 June 2018 Other artifacts were discovered during the dig as well, including ballista bolts, brooches, arrowheads, leather shoes, knives, bath clogs, writing tablets and pen and cavalry lances. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, 14 Sep. 2017 This kind of ballista dates back to 399 BCE, when King Dionysius of Syracuse besieged a walled town called Motya located on the island of Sicily. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, 28 July 2017 These miniature plastic or metal ballistas can fire a toothpick with enough force to pierce cardboard or — if loaded up with metal needles instead of wooden skewers — a soda can, the BBC reports. Joseph Hincks, Time, 22 June 2017 Nahshon Szanton and Moran Hagbi, the directors of the excavation, said the ballista balls were used by the Romans to bombard Jerusalem during the battle. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, 25 May 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of ballista

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ballista

Middle English baliste "crossbow, ballista," borrowed from Latin ballista, bāllista "ballista," borrowed from Greek ballistḗs, presumably "thrower, military engine" (attested only as the name of a constellation in an astrological manuscript), agent derivative of ballízein "to throw, launch," from bállein "to reach by throwing, let fly, strike" + -izein -ize — more at devil entry 1

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The first known use of ballista was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near ballista

Balling scale

ballista

ballister

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Cite this Entry

“Ballista.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ballista. Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ballista

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ballista

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