blow·​gun | \ ˈblō-ˌgən How to pronounce blowgun (audio) \

Definition of blowgun

: a tube through which a projectile (such as a dart) may be impelled by the force of the breath

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

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, "A tale of love illustrated with lowercase letters is among this week’s new books," 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, "Mysterious blow dart attacker hits two people in South San Jose," 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, "California Today: An ‘Incomprehensible’ Climb in Yosemite," 6 June 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of blowgun

1800, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about blowgun

Time Traveler for blowgun

Time Traveler

The first known use of blowgun was in 1800

See more words from the same year

Statistics for blowgun

Cite this Entry

“Blowgun.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for blowgun



English Language Learners Definition of blowgun

: a long narrow tube that shoots out an arrow or dart when someone breathes into it quickly and forcefully


blow·​gun | \ ˈblō-ˌgən How to pronounce blowgun (audio) \

Kids Definition of blowgun

: a tube from which a dart may be shot by the force of the breath

More from Merriam-Webster on blowgun Encyclopedia article about blowgun

Comments on blowgun

What made you want to look up blowgun? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!