ballistic missile

plural ballistic missiles

Definition of ballistic missile

: a usually rocket-powered missile that is launched in a high arc under guidance for its ascent but that is unpowered and unguided once it begins its descent — compare cruise missile, guided missile

Examples of ballistic missile in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In January, after attacking U.S. forces in Iraq with ballistic missiles, Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people on board. NBC News, "Iran raises death toll in friendly fire missile strike to 19," 11 May 2020 Iran claimed the launch was successful and will more than double its firing range to 3,100 miles — a major escalation, if true, of Tehran’s potential to attack other countries with ballistic missiles. Los Angeles Times, "With coronavirus raging, are Trump and Iran moving toward confrontation again?," 22 Apr. 2020 The United States has said the satellite launches violate a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding that Iran conduct no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "Iran says it launched its first military satellite into orbit," 22 Apr. 2020 Thus, its launchings Tuesday were considered less provocative than its recent tests of ballistic missiles. Choe Sang-hun,, "North Korea fires missiles as South’s elections loom," 14 Apr. 2020 Thus, its launchings on Tuesday​ were considered less provocative than its recent tests of ballistic missiles. New York Times, "North Korea Fires Missiles as South’s Elections Loom," 11 Apr. 2020 The downing of the plane came amid high alert for a U.S. counterattack following Tehran's firing of ballistic missiles at American forces in Iraq. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Nearly 10% of Iranian lawmakers infected with coronavirus, state media reports," 3 Mar. 2020 In this case, Iran had just launched a barrage of ballistic missiles against US forces in Iraq, and its defenses were likely on high alert for a potential response. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Missile warfare is a growing threat to civilian airliners," 11 Jan. 2020 Both sides appeared to step back on Wednesday after Iran launched a series of ballistic missiles at two military bases housing American troops in Iraq without causing any casualties. Author: Amir Vahdat, Joseph Krauss, Anchorage Daily News, "Iran sends mixed signals as tensions with US appear to ease," 9 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ballistic missile.' 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 ballistic missile

1950, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for ballistic missile

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The first known use of ballistic missile was in 1950

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Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ballistic missile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for ballistic missile

ballistic missile


English Language Learners Definition of ballistic missile

: a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes

More from Merriam-Webster on ballistic missile

Britannica English: Translation of ballistic missile for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ballistic missile

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