blow·​gun ˈblō-ˌgən How to pronounce blowgun (audio)
: a tube through which a projectile (such as a dart) may be impelled by the force of the breath

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This is a long, narrow pipe through which darts or other projectiles are blown. Primarily a hunting weapon, a blowgun is rarely used in warfare. It has been used by aboriginal peoples in Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, South India and Sri Lanka, Madagascar, northwest South America, and Central America. Blowguns vary in length from 18 in (45 cm) to more than 23 ft (7 m) and are often made of cane or bamboo. Darts are usually made of palm-leaf midribs or wood or bamboo splinters 1½–40 in (4–100 cm) in length. The dart must fit the tube snugly, so that a puff of human breath will cause it to fly from the tube. To be effective against quarry larger than small birds, poison is added to the darts.

Examples of blowgun in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Anthropology professor Terry Castro and a few students meet men of the tribe in the jungle and Castro is accidentally poisoned after handling a dart from a blowgun. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, 16 June 2019 The attacks occurred almost a year to the day after two pedestrians on the Golden Gate Bridge were hit by blowgun darts the afternoon of Feb. 12. Robert Salonga, The Mercury News, 17 Feb. 2017 Images posted to social media in recent months appear to show at least two birds going about their lives with blowgun darts embedded in their head and neck. Mike McPhate, New York Times, 6 June 2017

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

Word History

First Known Use

1800, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of blowgun was in 1800

Dictionary Entries Near blowgun

Cite this Entry

“Blowgun.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


blow·​gun -ˌgən How to pronounce blowgun (audio)
: a long narrow tube from which an arrow or dart may be blown

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