bal·​lis·​tic bə-ˈli-stik How to pronounce ballistic (audio)
: extremely and usually suddenly excited, upset, or angry : wild
He went ballistic when he saw the dent in his car.
and the crowd goes ballistic
: of or relating to the science of the motion of projectiles in flight
exercise : being or characterized by repeated bouncing
ballistic stretching
physics, of an object in motion : behaving like a projectile
But the Bell Labs switch uses such a low current that the few ballistic electrons are a distance of a micrometer or more apart …Robert Pool
of a material : capable of resisting or stopping bullets or other projectiles
ballistic glass
ballistic nylon
… engineered specifically to be worn under ballistic vests and shirts.K. M. Reese
ballistically adverb

Examples of ballistic in a Sentence

she went ballistic when she discovered her brother reading her e-mail
Recent Examples on the Web Any competent shooter with a decent setup and a ballistic calculator can land a bullet at least somewhere near an animal at long range these days. Matthew Every, Field & Stream, 14 Feb. 2024 The Secret Service agents formed a perimeter around this vehicle, sacrificing the first and third vehicles in their column to the mob, which began to vandalize these other two SUVs, tearing out the seats, slamming bricks into the ballistic windshields. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 12 Feb. 2024 The Houthis have demonstrated proficiency in utilizing Iran's expanding ballistic and drone capabilities, and Iran anticipates the group will be similarly effective in upping its naval abilities. Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, Foreign Affairs, 29 Jan. 2024 This top-of-the-line duffel has ample organizational features and an incredibly durable ballistic nylon exterior. Theresa Holland, Travel + Leisure, 2 Feb. 2024 On May 17, investigators found a ballistic match between shell cases recovered at the scene and a pistol that Strickland had previously bought for Armstrong, and Austin police issued an arrest warrant. Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2024 The South’s Defense Ministry demanded the North halt its ballistic testing activities that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 15 Jan. 2024 Most of the 21 missiles targeted Kyiv, the capital, were shot down, including five ballistic ones, officials said. Yulia Drozd, ABC News, 23 Jan. 2024 Separately, Japan has expressed concern over a developing relationship between Russia and North Korea, as the latter country continues to ramp up its pursuit of nuclear and ballistic weapons. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 18 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from New Latin ballisticus "relating to the motion of projectiles in flight," from Latin ballista ballista + New Latin -icus -ic entry 1

Note: The Latin word was apparently introduced by the French priest and polymath Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) in Ballistica et acontismologia, a section (with separate title page) of his Cogitata physico-mathematica (Paris, 1644).

First Known Use

1764, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of ballistic was in 1764

Dictionary Entries Near ballistic

Cite this Entry

“Ballistic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


bal·​lis·​tic bə-ˈlis-tik How to pronounce ballistic (audio)
: of or relating to ballistics

More from Merriam-Webster on ballistic

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